Skills and Fluff in WoD


  • Pitcrew

    Since people can't stop bringing it up in the Min-Maxing thread:

    @wretched said in Game Design: Avoiding Min-Maxing:

    @the-sands But that's the entire reason modifiers exist in nWoD. For situational advantages/disadvantages. They would still have the same dice pool for treating a gunshot wound, for the reasons I previously mentioned, but a test on the subject matter that the int 5 guy never actually went to school on, I would most definitely say he would take a -modifier for.

    That is not a situation modifier. Situation modifiers are this such as 'you're operating in the dark' or 'people are shooting at you' and they apply to everyone evenly. 'I'm going to give you a -2 to this that I'm not giving to another player' is just being a douche (N.B.: There could be valid reasons for one character to suffer a penalty while the other doesn't, such as if the nurses only speak Spanish, but what you're saying is 'sure, you've got the same chance to do anything but I'm going to give you a penalty anyway because I am somehow offended that you are just as talented as someone else that I've classified as a doctor'.)

    Do you plan to start giving people situational modifiers based on their Firearms skill? (Well, yes, you would have a six die pool but see only 2 of those dots come from Firearms, so I'm going to give you a penalty).

    More than that, do you plan on letting me play a Doctor with 1 Int and 3 Medicine? After all, the fluff says I'm a doctor and according to you that's all that matters, right?


  • Pitcrew

    Not exactly on this line but I think the rules and fluff should ideally in any game be in tune with each other.
    Though when the disagree I will tend to side with fluff mainly because if the point of the game is to tell stories which is the stated goal of every published RPG I have read, then the story should have primacy.
    If the point is not to tell stories we are essentially playing poorly designed wargames and should be cracking open Advanced Squad Leader for our small unit combat sims, or any of the various small unit scale wargames out there. (This is not to denigrate ASL at all I loves me that game but it is not an RPG nor does it claim to be.)


  • Pitcrew

    Yes, ideally fluff and rules should be in tune with one another, but when the two are wildly out of tune usually you are going to have rules trump over fluff. Sure, it is easy to say that the point of the rules is to support the stories, but honestly, are you going to jack up the stats for some piece of equipment because someone wrote a bad bit of fluff?

    As a complete non-WoD example, in Eclipse Phase there is a morph (body a person can be downloaded into) called the Fenris. It is about the size of a small car like a Prius. There is a picture of the morph in relation to a normal sized person that is provided specifically to give you scale and it has the Large Size trait rather than the Very Large Size trait. Someone, however, when writing up the fluff about how bad-ass this combat morph is suppose to be said it is as strong as a super-heavy tank which of course has caused all sorts of people to lose their minds and try to come up with ways to make this small car sized thing as powerful as a super-heavy tank.

    It's all utterly pointless, of course, because no matter how much armor you can bolt on to your Prius and how big a gun you can mount on it you will never have as much armor or as big a gun as an actually super-heavy tank because a super-heavy tank is bigger than a Prius. People try to say 'oh, but this is the future and maybe they can make tough armor that is only 3 cm thick'. Great. Any particular reason then that the super-heavy tank doesn't have 20 cm of that same armor?

    Sure, occasionally there are things just broken between fluff and rules where you might want to go the way of fluff. If you have to break core aspects of the game system though (normal skill actions are resolved through adding the appropriate attribute to the appropriate skill and rolling that many dice) you're probably going to far.

    It boggles my mind a little how much people want to try and protect such poorly written fluff, incidentally. According to what people say it is evidently only slightly harder to learn to be a Doctor (requiring Medicine-3) than it is to learn drive stick (requiring Drive-2). When I learned how to drive I learned how to drive stick and while it has been a really long time since I learned how to drive I don't recall it being anywhere near as difficult as four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school, residency, and then passing a medical review board. I mean, sure, it's a dot less. So why don't we just knock that down to what, two years of school? That's like less than 1/4 of what it takes to get 3 dots. That seems fair. Of course it only took me a couple of weekends to learn to drive stick, but maybe I'm just a fast learner.


  • Pitcrew

    @thatguythere So then you would have no trouble with me saying 'oh, you can't shoot him because your Firearms skill is too low'?


  • Pitcrew

    @the-sands
    Not really since shooting most guns works the same you point and pull trigger, but I would tell someone with low firearms they couldn't field strip a weapon, and yes I have made someone without firearms skill roll to figure out they needed to take the safety off on a weapon before firing it.



  • @thatguythere Jams, knowing your weapon isn't firing due to firing pin issues or some other component, setting your sites and knowing the difference for range and what you're sites are set for, knowing the right ammo for your weapon and loading the clip right Firearms skill should make a big difference too.

    I don't think skill descriptions are fluff. This is more rules lawyering for statistical advantage, but saying skill desc is fluff doesn't have weight.


  • Pitcrew

    @thatguythere Sure, both guns work the same, but the guy with only 1 dot in Firearms doesn't know how to lead his target. He doesn't know how to adjust for range or windage or recoil (at least according to your logic).

    Your guy with Drive-1 doesn't understand about loading the wheels. He doesn't know about skidpad performance of different vehicles or the difference in performance between front-wheel and rear-wheel drives. Guess we better give him a penalty as well.

    I can continue this argument to every single skill if you would like.

    Good lord, even if you lack a skill you can attempt an action and as long as you have enough dice with the untrained penalty that you might succeed your allowed to roll (e.g. if I have Dexterity-5 and Firearms-0 and I want to shoot at something where I have a -3 die penalty I get to do it. You're not suppose to turn around and say 'no, you lack the proper Firearms knowledge to account for all the difficulties of the shot and automatically miss' (you can make me futz around with having to find the safety if that gives you a feeling of power before I that the shot, but you're not suppose to make me automatically miss) and you sure as snot aren't suppose to turn around and say 'yes, your pool is 6 dice and there is no penalty but I'm just not going to let you'.

    Oh. Sorry Alex, even though you can perform absolutely as well Barry I'm not going to let you do it because you're Int-5 Medicine-1 and he's Int-3 Medicine-3. Yes, I realize your pool is actually two points higher than Carl since he's Int-1 and Medicine-3 and I'm letting him do it, but suck it up.


  • Pitcrew

    @lotherio said in Skills and Fluff in WoD:

    I don't think skill descriptions are fluff. This is more rules lawyering for statistical advantage, but saying skill desc is fluff doesn't have weight.

    So then you're saying a person with 2 Dexterity, 2 Strength, and 2 Stamina is an Olympic Medalist just because they have Athletics 5? After all, it's the rules! Man, the MMA circuit must really suck in your world because with my 6 die Brawl skill I'm also apparently a serious contender with my Brawl-4. It's the rules! So when I play in your game can I complain that I'm not able to pound 99% of the game to mush with my 6 die pool? After all, I'm an MMA contender! They must be cheating!

    Yeah. I really don't think you want to try and say those are anything more than maybe things to give you some kind of vague idea what a skill level means when paired with a roughly equivalent attribute.



  • @the-sands This is like a flip flop from the other thread. Weren't you the one saying skill description (drive 1 - automatic, drive 2 - manual) was fluff? I never said no such thing about Olympic medalists, you've made some leaps and bounds to speculate something I never commented on.


  • Politics

    @the-sands said in Skills and Fluff in WoD:

    More than that, do you plan on letting me play a Doctor with 1 Int and 3 Medicine? After all, the fluff says I'm a doctor and according to you that's all that matters, right?

    You do understand that you're in the mildly constructive area, and yet aren't saying anything remotely constructive, I presume.

    That said, frankly, I don't like "situational modifiers." I think they are garbage. I've seen them abused more times than I can count. "Oh, I'm wearing a nice dress -- +2 to my Socialize roll!" "Oh, wow, I'm wearing the make-up of Hollywood stars -- +2 to my Presence roll!" And so on, and so on.

    sigh

    The Storyteller in the Storyteller system is the person that awards these. If I'm in a scene with a Storyteller, sure, let her go ahead and give me a bonus or penalize my attempt, whatever, that's cool. Really, I'm good with it.

    But, fuck, no, no you can't just claim that shit in a scene with other folks. Nope. No, no, no, nope. Just add your applicable pools, look at your Merits if you have them, and then go with it.

    Don't even get me started on the garbage that results from people stacking specialties.

    But, all of that said, there will be nice, clean rules for whatever game I happen to run. And one of them will be, yes: situational modifiers will only be doled out by GMs or by consent of every PC's player in the scene.


  • Pitcrew

    No. I still think they are fluff. I am trying to illustrate why it is silly to say they are 'rules'. Because as 'rules' they make absolutely 0 sense since you have to combine them with Attributes.


  • Politics

    @the-sands said in Skills and Fluff in WoD:

    No. I still think they are fluff. I am trying to illustrate why it is silly to say they are 'rules'. Because as 'rules' they make absolutely 0 sense since you have to combine them with Attributes.

    Going back to my first point, there's still absolutely nothing constructive about what you're stating here. It's your opinion -- I get that -- but so what?

    To my second point, call 'em fluff, I'll call 'em garbage, and we're otherwise on the same level of apparent disdain.


  • Pitcrew

    @ganymede said in Skills and Fluff in WoD:

    That said, frankly, I don't like "situational modifiers." I think they are garbage. I've seen them abused more times than I can count. "Oh, I'm wearing a nice dress -- +2 to my Socialize roll!" "Oh, wow, I'm wearing the make-up of Hollywood stars -- +2 to my Presence roll!" And so on, and so on.

    Situational modifiers absolutely have their place in the game. You used Obtenebration on me and I can't see? That's a situational modifier right there. There's quite a few abilities in the game that are almost completely based around granting people situational modifiers (positive and negative). Range modifiers, cover, even injuries are basically forms of situational modifiers

    A Storyteller deciding the hand out a situational modifier penalty because your skill is too low, however? That seems to be someone either abusing their position or someone who has already made up their mind how the story is suppose to go. Either way, not a good Storyteller.

    The case of positive modifiers for makeup and things is a little wonky. In WoD/CoD there are a lot of ways to get bumps from gear and equipment. It's just the way the system is written. Players shouldn't just get to decide that they get those bonuses though, IMO. That should be handled through some kind of system such as equipment purchases.


  • Pitcrew

    @ganymede said in Skills and Fluff in WoD:

    @the-sands said in Skills and Fluff in WoD:

    No. I still think they are fluff. I am trying to illustrate why it is silly to say they are 'rules'. Because as 'rules' they make absolutely 0 sense since you have to combine them with Attributes.

    Going back to my first point, there's still absolutely nothing constructive about what you're stating here. It's your opinion -- I get that -- but so what?

    To my second point, call 'em fluff, I'll call 'em garbage, and we're otherwise on the same level of apparent disdain.

    Sorry. That was a reply to Lothario.


  • Pitcrew

    @the-sands
    Yes if i was running the scene I would give whatever modifiers on skills that I found warranted including flat out saying things don't succeed or sometimes that things automatically succeed. One rule I have seen in most games and definitely in every WoD one was that the GM/storyteller is the final arbiter of things. No if someone disagree they are free to leave the scene or in the case of table top the campaign.
    In a GM less scene I it is a different matter but if someone with low skill wanted to do something I thought was out of whack I would also pause things to call in staff to act as the arbiter of the situation.


  • Pitcrew

    @thatguythere said in Skills and Fluff in WoD:

    One rule I have seen in most games and definitely in every WoD one was that the GM/storyteller is the final arbiter of things. No if someone disagree they are free to leave the scene or in the case of table top the campaign.

    And on those grounds you are absolutely correct and I do not disagree with you in the slightest. The GM/Storyteller is the final arbiter of things.

    The Storyteller also has the ability to say a character spontaneously combusts, breaks down weeping when someone looks at them funny, or turns into a frog. Your ruling, while valid, is just about as well supported by the rules (meaning it is primarily supported because of the rule that says the ST is the final arbiter rather than some actual non-fluff rule that can be pointed to).

    I would most likely leave the campaign as you have now fallen into the category of someone either abusing your position or someone who has already made up your mind how the story goes. Either way, not a good Storyteller.

    I'm not saying you're a terrible person. I think you have fallen into one of several possible patterns that people fall into (I hate that I'm losing the argument so I'm going to invoke ST fiat/I want the story to run this way/I'm fed up with this guy so I've developed an unconscious bias against him). However, I would not find it enjoyable to continue playing in a game with such an arbitrary nature.

    And because I do want this to be constructive I will say this; evoking the 'I am the ST' clause to arbitrarily throw out penalties is not good. If you really want the levels of skills to mean something, that's absolutely fine. However, you need to apply it consistently. You need a House Rule that says 'certain tasks can't be attempted if a skill is deemed too low'. That needs to be a House Rule because there's nothing in the actual rules that implies anything remotely close to that. It should also be applied consistently, meaning that yes, it is just as likely that someone with Dexterity-5 and Firearms-1 will not be allowed to take a shot when they actually have enough dice because their Firearms skill is too low.

    I recognize that Emerson said "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" but inconsistency leads to staff abuse and favoritism (both perceived and actual).

    Is the WoD system flawed? Sure. Can you try and patch the flaws with house rules? Absolutely (I might be inclined to have a house rule saying at least 1/3 of your pool has to come from your Skill and then tweak the rules for when you lack the skill). Such a system, though, isn't what we're talking about right now. What we're talking about right now is if the system as written (not as you would like it to run) supports the idea that a Storyteller should (not can, but should) say you can't undertake an action you actually have the dice to attempt or that they should assign penalties just because they feel a skill is too low.


  • Pitcrew

    I don't think I would be a terrible Gm just one with a different view than you prefer. there are many style, for example where do you stand on GMs fudging dice? I personally would leave a game where the Gm did that, other people see no issue with it.
    The Gm who fudges is not terrible just not to my taste, much like my not fudging resulting in PCs losing and in some cases dying has cause others to leave my games
    To be the skill thing is along the same lines, the rules provide a story framework they are not a set of fictional physics. And I would be consistent, I would not let Bill try to perform surgery with medicine one nor Bob nor anyone.


  • Pitcrew

    @thatguythere said in Skills and Fluff in WoD:

    I don't think I would be a terrible Gm just one with a different view than you prefer. there are many style, for example where do you stand on GMs fudging dice? I personally would leave a game where the Gm did that, other people see no issue with it.
    The Gm who fudges is not terrible just not to my taste, much like my not fudging resulting in PCs losing and in some cases dying has cause others to leave my games
    To be the skill thing is along the same lines, the rules provide a story framework they are not a set of fictional physics. And I would be consistent, I would not let Bill try to perform surgery with medicine one nor Bob nor anyone.

    Edit: Over in the social skills section you mention seduction shouldn't be able to work in some situations, yet in the write up for seduction as an action in WoD 1st edition there is no mention of the a target needing to be attracted to the seducer, having a significant other is listed as a bonus for the resistance roll though doesn't negate the attempt either, wouldn't a GM deciding a seduction didn't be just as arbitrary as my medicine example?


  • Coder

    Firearms is a bad example to use here, because not knowing to lead? That's called rolling badly because you're not using that many dice.

    Situational modifiers are something that are supposed to be given by the ST not by the players, the PC's can pitch something, and the ST can go yeah ok, or nope, not gonna fly. In the same vein, if there is no ST, if a player pitches a situational modifier, other players have the ability to go: Nope, not gonna fly in this situation.

    Now I also agree a specialty is a specialty and you should only get one since... it's a specialty. Once you start overlapping them you're not specializing, you're now diversifying so that defeats the point of a specialty.

    But I also agree, this shouldn't be in the mildly constructive area either.


  • Pitcrew

    @thatguythere said in Skills and Fluff in WoD:

    Edit: Over in the social skills section you mention seduction shouldn't be able to work in some situations, yet in the write up for seduction as an action in WoD 1st edition there is no mention of the a target needing to be attracted to the seducer, having a significant other is listed as a bonus for the resistance roll though doesn't negate the attempt either, wouldn't a GM deciding a seduction didn't be just as arbitrary as my medicine example?

    In that context I'm talking about designing a system. I'm saying that when you write up said system you should take these things into account.