Saturday, January 29, 2011

Elthos ODS Skills System

Just a few words about the Elthos  'One Die System' (ODS)  Skill Learning Points system.  The basic idea of the system is that as Characters go up in Levels they gain Skill Learning Points at each level, which they can either save or spend.  If they spend them they can learn new skills, or beef up their level at already learned skills.

Currently the Elthos ODS Rules Book states:

Skills are learned by spending SLP, which are granted when the Character achieves each new Level. At each new Level the Character gets:

SLP = (# Of Sub Classes) + 1.

SLP can be saved up between Levels for a costly Skill.

For example, an Outlaw (Fighter-Thief), at 3rd Level gets this number of new SLP: (2 Sub Classes) + 1 = 2 + 1 = 3 SLP (and has a cumulative Total of 9).

Note: Higher Level Characters get more SLP.  Multi-Class Characters must spend their SLP on each of the Classes to which they belong.  So if a Spell Chanter + Fighter  at 3rd Level he gets new 3 SLP, of which he must spend 1 SLP on Spell Chanter Skills, and 1 SLP on Fighter Skills, or he can choose to learn Elective Skills.

Primary Skills (“Y” on the Skills Chart) are Class-Specific, always used at the current Level of the Character, and earn “Prime Experience” when used successfully.  Class-Prohibited Skills (“N”) can not be learned if the Character is a Member of that Class, unless he is a Multi-Class Character where one of his Classes has the Skill as Primary Skill (“Y”), or he is a Freeman.  Elective Skills (“E”) can be learned by the Class but using it does not gain Prime Experience.

Freemen  do not join the Adventurers’ Guild, but instead purchase Skill lessons from the Guild ad-hoc at twice the monetary cost of Guild Members.   They, however, can learn any Skills, and all of their Class-Skills (“Y”) give them Prime Experience.  If a Freeman has Requisites below what the normal Guild Class requires for a “Y” Skill, then learning that Skill costs +1 SLP for each point below the required Requisite.  Freemen get 3 SLP per Level.

Players can add Bonus SLP when learning any Skill or Mystic Power in multiples of the SLP cost for the Skill, to gain additional Skill Levels for that Skill.  For example, a 2nd Level Fighter adds +1 SLP for Medium Weapon (which normally costs 1 SLP to learn) would use Medium Weapons at 3rd Level, instead of 2nd Level, and it would cost him 2 SLP.

To determine how many SLP a Character has at a particular Level use this formula:

Total SLP at any Level = (Level * # of Classes) + 1

The Skills chart is this:

Skill Name              SLP     Thief   Fighter  MU   Cleric  Gold 
Light Weapons           1        Y       Y*      E      E b      1
Medium Weapons          1        N       Y*      N      E b      1
Heavy Weapons           2        N       Y*      N      N        2
Pick Pockets            1        Y*      N       N      N        1
Stealth                 3        Y*      N       N      N        3
Horse Riding            3        E       Y*      E      E        3
Reading Writing         1        E       E       Y      Y*       1
Archery                 2        Y*      Y       E      N        3
Rhetoric                2        N       N       Y*     Y        2
Gambling                2        Y*      E       E      N        2
Swimming                1        Y       Y*      E      E        1
Spell Casting         1 / L      N       N       Y*     N      1 / L
Miracle Invocation    1 / L      N       N       N      Y*     1 / L

Note that the chart is a small sample of skills. The Spells (and Invocations) cost 1 SLP / Spell Level. * means that the Skill is taught by the particular Guild in whose column the * appears. b means blunt weapons only.

We've experimented lately with a number of alternative formulas, my current favorite being this one:

CharacterLevel * NumberOfClasses * NumSkillsOfLevelAtLevel

The current system as a whole is a work in progress. There are issues with it which are being ironed out during the Elthos play testing. So far though, I am liking the system. I'm wondering if anyone cares to offer any thoughts or suggestions on the system as it is here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Classic Beginner GM Mistakes

Gamesmastering Style

- Railroading.
- Author Appeal - "what I think is cool must be cool"
- Focused only on combat to the exclusion of role playing: weak narrative - numbers focused.
- Excessive cheating.
- GM plays all NPCs with the same personality and mannerisms.
- GM does not narrate well (stilted descriptions).

Player Interaction

- Not understanding player preferences.
- GM Rules lawyering (niddling over rules with players in-game).
- GM allowing rules lawyering during the game.
- GM fails to establish reasonable player expectations (what kind of game are we playing?)
- GM Egotism - playing the game to Beat the Players and WIN THE GAME (bad, bad, bad).
-- Abusive GM Fiat.
-- GM-PC - another symptom of GM Egoism. Falling in love with one's own NPC.
-- Player Favoritism - the GM's Girlfriend, or best friend.

Game Prep

- Not knowing the rules well enough.
- Being under-prepared for the game.
- Overstacking the odds against the player characters (accidentally or otherwise).
- Understacking the odds against the player characters.
- Rules Tunnel Vision - being locked in by the rules making the world limited, technical and predictable.
- Mediocre story.
- Too much control over Players.
- Creating overly complicated scenarios (and then losing track and creating internal contradictions).
- Creating overly simplistic scenarios (uninteresting).
- Monty Hall Dungeons (can work, sometimes, but not often).
- GM failing to establish party unity in the back story or setting.
- GM does not know their world well enough (the "um um um" syndrom).
- Pampering Players.
-- Giving out too much stuff too fast (treasure, info, etc).
-- Never letting PCs die.

The list was gleaned from discussions at one of our Literary Role Playing Game Society of Westchester Meetings not too long ago.  I thought it was a good enough list to share.  Perhaps it will save some Newbie Gamesmasters from some of the common pitfalls of the beginning GM.   Best wishes!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Elthos Web Application Progress

Ok, things are moving along slowly but surely.  I was very happily working on the next set of enhancements to the Elthos Web Application when I found that my hosting company, Arvixe, has been updating their database system.  So I ran into a big fat hairball when I tried to deploy my changes to the production system.  Oh joy.  That took about a week of communications, research, trial and error to resolve, but finally - the site has been updated.  The new feature is to allow Gamesmasters to select one of a number of Skill Learning Point Advancement Rate formulas from the World Configuration page and apply them to their World.  It's probably something of a senseless feature that I will eventually remove, but for now, while still in the testing phase I think it will be handy to use to compare the different formulas.  I may keep it anyway.  Depends on whether or not Gamesmasters actually wind up needing it.  My guess is that they will use the default.  But then again - maybe not!  Time will tell.  In the meantime, I'm pretty happy with the functionality so far as my own purposes as concerned.  :)