Musings on the Training System

I don't like my training system. It is too complicated for a "quick" d20 system. Quick for me since I know the math and do it quickly, a bitch for anyone else. The hierarchical system leads to an extremely rapid advancement of bonuses, which makes low level characters too powerful. The answer, I thought, would be to advance difficulty ratings just as quick. But there's a limit in that, when rolling a d20, the entire point in the first place, becomes useless.

For example, the sort of quantum physics mathematics Dr. Ritenrong uses is very difficult. In very short order he's achieved a +34 to do it. Which means the highest non-critical success he can achieve is 19+34, a DC of 53. He will never (non-critically) fail any DC under 36.

However, in general math, his range is 16 to 35. He will almost guaranteed solve the math problem if it is a complex dimensional topography equation, but if its a relatively simple calculus problem he will potentially fail it.

While this makes for an interesting, sort of absent minded, totally focused on one thing character, it seems to be the only kind of character this system will produce (if hierarchies are employed).

Take jumping. The hierarchy goes:
Athletics 1 (+1) ->Jumping 1 (+2) ->Long Jump 1 (+3) -> Jumping the Crick 1(+4)
Lets say Doc puts some training into jumping the crick. 1 skill point buys 1+Str. Bonus (0), so 1 rank. Now it's Jumping the Crik 2 (+8). The crick jump is a DC 10. At +8, Doc will never fail this jump (unless it's a critical failure). What if he's making the jump in a heavy thunderstorm (DC+5) while carrying an 80lb backpack (DC+5)? Now the DC is 20, and Doc has a better chance of failing it; he has to roll at least a 12.

Now lets bump Doc's training a bit more; another rank in Crick Jumping gives him a +12. Now he has to roll 8 or better to succeed. Another bump gives him +16, he has to roll 4 or better. At 5 ranks in Crick Jumping he's got a +20, and will never fail this jump in these conditions.

The next time he jumps the crick, it's hailing grapefruits, the ground is covered in ice, he's carrying a backpack and Thunderhorse, who is also wearing a backpack. Lets make this a DC 40. Add another 5 training ranks to Crick Jumping and he's at +40 and cannot fail the jump.

Let's look at the hierarchy again:
Athletics 1 (+1) ->Jumping 1 (+2) ->Long Jump 1(+3) -> Jumping the Crik10 (+40)

We've never added any ranks to Long Jump or even Jump. He can make an incredible, superheroic leap across the crick, but has little chance of winning a high-school track meet.

We've spent 10 points in training him. If Doc learns nothing but crick jumping for two levels, he's got this outrageous bonus. Lets say Doc has an 18 strength. Each time he trains in a strength skill, he gets 5 ranks in it. He gets this +40 bonus by only spending two skill points. If he spent the entire two levels jumping the crick, he's got a bonus of +200. He can jump the crick while it's raining molten lead, the area is undergoing a 10.0 earthquake, the crick is flooding with lava, the banks of it have become entirely frictionless, he's suffering from radiation sickness, he's carrying a full-scale solid depleted-uranium sculpture of Orson Wells on horseback, and he does a 10-point backflip. At level 2. Yet he still can't get over the high-bars. What's his success-fail range, again? 202 - 219. No real point in rolling dice anymore, is there?

Now let's say that you can't put more ranks into training deeper into the hierarchy than you have higher up. Lets go back to level 1:

Str: 18 (+4)
Athletics 10 (+14) -> Jump 5 (+14) -> Long jump 5 (+19) -> Crick Jumping 5 (+24).

We've spent 5 skill points, and we had to put one into Athletics before we can advance anything else. At level two, we keep going:

Athletics 15 (+19), Jump 15 (+34), Long jump 10 (+34), Crick Jumping 10 (+44)

Now what if, instead, we just put all 10 skill points into athletics in the first place?

Athletics 50 (+54).

Athletics covers a broad range of skills including jumping, swimming, climbing, etc. At level 2, Doc can defeat any superheroic strength challenge (although he can't do much else). There's no point putting ranks into training deeper in the hierarchy, he'll get a much better score against a much larger range of situations if he doesn't.

If we remove the ability bonus to training ranks, we remove the superhero acceleration problem, but the problem of hierarchy devaluation remains the same.

Athletics 3 (+7), Jump 3 (+10), Long Jump 2 (+10), Crick Jump 2 (+12)
Athletics 10 (+14)

Lets go way back to the original scheme: No ability bonus to training and no restrictions on rank placement other than having at least 1 rank in a higher place on the hierarchy (still Str 18):

Athletics 1 (+5), Jump 1(+6), Long jump 1 (+7), Crick Jump 7 (+32).
Athletics 10 (+14)

Okay, that's better, probably why I did it that way in the first place. Still have the problem of imbalanced skill. Doc can still practically walk on air over the crick, but still has trouble with the pole vault. A little more reasonable, but still imbalanced system.

Oh, well, it was a fun experiment, but a revamping is definitely required. I'll be working on it, and I'll post more about it later.


Doc said...

Or you could do what I do and just make it up as you go.


ERR said...

There must be maths! Many maths! I needs them for my brain not to crazy.

Doc said...

Maybe it is about specialization. Doc is an archeologist so he could probably do a twenty minute speech on the ancient greeks, but just because he knows history and about the past, it doesn't mean he could quote stats for a baseball team in 1925.

I'm sure whatever you work out will be just fine. Don't let the rules dictate the story. Fudge rolls if you have to.


ERR said...

Kinda what I was going for originally. Skills like in d20 but whatever the hell you want instead of sticking to the list. I seem to have lost track of that, but I'll reorganize.