Reworking M&M 3e skills system

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RainOnTheSun
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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by RainOnTheSun » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:01 am

FuzzyBoots wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:46 pm
The chief problem is PL caps. If you have an athletic guy with the proposed merged skill, say at 12 ranks at PL 10, are his Strength and Agility limited to a maximum of 8, since both now possibly factor into the total?
I wouldn't limit strength or agility--I'd just limit the total bonus to the PL cap. If you have Acrobatics or Athletics at 12, and the active ability is at 10, your total bonus is +20.

I'd actually go further than just dual-stat skills, myself. Falling from a height and need to catch something to save yourself? Roll Acrobatics + Dexterity. Meet another athlete and try to get on their good side through your shared knowledge and appreciation of the sport? Athletics + Presence. Trying to recognize the name of a great circus performer? Acrobatics + Intellect. Need to catch somebody cheating? Athletics + Awareness.

There's another d20 game I'm a big fan of, called 13th Age, that drops the 3.x skill system entirely in favor of what it calls Backgrounds. Instead of a lawyer taking Expertise (Law) and Persuasion and Insight, for example, they'd take a background like "lawyer," and whenever they needed to do something they'd have experience with as a lawyer, they'd add that background to whatever ability check was relevant. I'm very, very tempted to steal the background system for the next time I run an M&M game. The increased versatility would probably make them more expensive than skills, though, and I'm not sure yet how much I'd charge for ranks in backgrounds.

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Woodclaw
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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by Woodclaw » Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:42 am

RainOnTheSun wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:01 am
FuzzyBoots wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:46 pm
The chief problem is PL caps. If you have an athletic guy with the proposed merged skill, say at 12 ranks at PL 10, are his Strength and Agility limited to a maximum of 8, since both now possibly factor into the total?
I wouldn't limit strength or agility--I'd just limit the total bonus to the PL cap. If you have Acrobatics or Athletics at 12, and the active ability is at 10, your total bonus is +20.

I'd actually go further than just dual-stat skills, myself. Falling from a height and need to catch something to save yourself? Roll Acrobatics + Dexterity. Meet another athlete and try to get on their good side through your shared knowledge and appreciation of the sport? Athletics + Presence. Trying to recognize the name of a great circus performer? Acrobatics + Intellect. Need to catch somebody cheating? Athletics + Awareness.

There's another d20 game I'm a big fan of, called 13th Age, that drops the 3.x skill system entirely in favor of what it calls Backgrounds. Instead of a lawyer taking Expertise (Law) and Persuasion and Insight, for example, they'd take a background like "lawyer," and whenever they needed to do something they'd have experience with as a lawyer, they'd add that background to whatever ability check was relevant. I'm very, very tempted to steal the background system for the next time I run an M&M game. The increased versatility would probably make them more expensive than skills, though, and I'm not sure yet how much I'd charge for ranks in backgrounds.
I've taken into consideration to incorporate something similar to 13th Age in the form of Feats/Advantages to replace Beginner's Luck and Jack of All Trades, which are both kind of useless right now.
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RainOnTheSun
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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by RainOnTheSun » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:37 am

L-Space wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:49 am

Woodclaw wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:23 pm
Intimidate
I hate Intimidate, I understand it has a place in the triad of Interaction skills (alongside persuade or diplomacy, bluff or deception), but it's like the -- I can't believe I'm about to write this one down -- "special kid" of the bunch. I've lost count of how many systems have rules that sound like "this give a -x penalty to any social skill, except Intimidate". This is probably me, but compared to any other skill Intimidate looks terribly limited: it has just two uses and they are pretty much identical just inside and outside of combat, making it even less appealing to me.
Yea, Intimidation is kind of weird. It's just persuade, but you're acting mean about it.

I've thought about this a bit more. It's my opinion that the issue isn't that Intimidate is too weak, it's that Persuasion is way too strong.

Imagine that, instead of all the potentially infinite Expertise skills in M&M, there was one Intellect skill that took the place of all of them. Call it "Expertise: All." Everything from quantum physics to the ancient spells of the elder gods, everything from alien military history to the precedents set for telepathy in a court of law, everything from which Berlin cops can't be trusted to 16th-century Chinese art trivia: one skill for all of it. Sounds kind of strong, right?

That's what Persuasion is for Presence. It's 90% of an entire ability score in one skill. Intimidate is Persuasion, but heavily limited and only in a particular context, and that's what a Presence skill should be. It makes you better at some Presence checks, but only when doing a specific thing. Persuasion makes you better at almost every Presence check, and it's four times cheaper than Presence, and any skill is going to look weak next to that.

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Batgirl III
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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by Batgirl III » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:57 am

Presence is the red-headed stepchild of the Ability Scores. This has been a “known issue” for a while.
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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by Chris Brady » Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:20 am

Batgirl III wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:57 am
Presence is the red-headed stepchild of the Ability Scores. This has been a “known issue” for a while.
Honest question: Care to explain? I think I know what you mean, but I'd like clarification.

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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by Batgirl III » Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:32 am

In a nutshell, the Ability only has three Skills linked to it -- Deception, Intimidation, Persuasion -- and no other use outside of some very, very, very rare niche case builds. It costs 2 PP per +1 Presence, but those same 2 PP would get you four Skill Ranks, so you could raise one of the Skills to +2 and the others to +1 ea. Getting you a better return on investment... If you're building a character concept that doesn't need many (or any) ranks in one of these Skills, the return on investment gets even better.

Strength only has one Skill linked to it -- Athletics -- but is useful for melee damage, lifting capacity, all kinds of Resistance Checks, and so forth; Agility is only linked to two Skills -- Stealth and Acrobatics -- but those are very useful Skills, plus its linked to your Dodge Defense and Initiative; Dexterity is only linked to two Skills, but its also linked to Ranged Attacks... Fighting is only linked to one Skill, but, c'mon, its Fighting. It matters.
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RainOnTheSun
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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by RainOnTheSun » Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:47 am

It probably sounds extreme, but I'm toying with the idea of removing the Persuasion skill entirely the next time I run a game. Or just dividing it up into smaller skills more in line with Intimidation.

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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by Ken » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:46 am

Batgirl III wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:32 am
Fighting is only linked to one Skill, but, c'mon, its Fighting. It matters.
It's also linked to Parry. In fact one rank of Fighting is exactly the same in cost and function as one rank of Close Attack and one rank of Parry.
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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by Woodclaw » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:54 pm

RainOnTheSun wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:37 am
I've thought about this a bit more. It's my opinion that the issue isn't that Intimidate is too weak, it's that Persuasion is way too strong.

Imagine that, instead of all the potentially infinite Expertise skills in M&M, there was one Intellect skill that took the place of all of them. Call it "Expertise: All." Everything from quantum physics to the ancient spells of the elder gods, everything from alien military history to the precedents set for telepathy in a court of law, everything from which Berlin cops can't be trusted to 16th-century Chinese art trivia: one skill for all of it. Sounds kind of strong, right?

That's what Persuasion is for Presence. It's 90% of an entire ability score in one skill. Intimidate is Persuasion, but heavily limited and only in a particular context, and that's what a Presence skill should be. It makes you better at some Presence checks, but only when doing a specific thing. Persuasion makes you better at almost every Presence check, and it's four times cheaper than Presence, and any skill is going to look weak next to that.
In theory, the trick is that all the three skills actually operates according to the same principle: getting someone else to do something, but in different ways. You want to trick him, use Deception; you appeal to his better nature, use Persuasion; you force him, use Intimidation. The problem is that fiding other ways to use Deception and Persuasion is relatively easy, but Intimidate is locked in a very specific path because it's perceived just as a tool to abuse others. Plus there's the general idea that pointing a gun at someone else's face is like an automatic Intimidation check (thank you Holloywood).
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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by Batgirl III » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:26 pm

That’s why I’d like to see M&M4e switch to an official ‘floating’ Attribute and Skill system. Make it one skill “Socialize” or “Manipulate” or whatever you want to call it.

When Captain Hero wants to charm Linda McHostage, Intrepid Reporter, into disbelieving that he’s really Joe Everyman, Mild Mannered Accountant, he would roll Charisma + Socialize.

When Doctor Baddguy wants to bluff the prison warden with a word-salad of science jargon to trick the guards into believing he’s turned his lime Jell-O into an explosive, he would roll Intellect + Socialize.

When Strong-Girl rips a police interrogation desk in two to physically threaten the suspect in front of her into a confession, it’s Strength + Socialize.

So on and so forth.
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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by FuzzyBoots » Thu Apr 26, 2018 2:51 am

Ken wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:46 am
Batgirl III wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:32 am
Fighting is only linked to one Skill, but, c'mon, its Fighting. It matters.
It's also linked to Parry. In fact one rank of Fighting is exactly the same in cost and function as one rank of Close Attack and one rank of Parry.
Similarly, Stamina is in the situation where it adds exactly its worth in Toughness and Fortitude. Back in 2E, it also added to recovery checks, making it a sucker's bet to buy as much of it as you could to hit your limits.

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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by Ken » Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:16 am

Well, I'm going to present a dissenting view.

I hold the uncommon opinion that the Presece attribute vs the cost of Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion is actually a good thing.

First of all, no Persuasion isn't 90% of Presence. It is very easy to fall into the trap of using just a Deception roll when really a Deception roll AND a Persuasion roll are needed. Deception is the ability to convince someone of a falsehood. Convincing someone to act on that falsehood is still Persuasion.

And Intimidation isn't just about abusing people. Cast your minds back to 1978...
Luthor: Come in, it's open. My lawyer will be in touch with you about the door. Otis, take the gentleman's cape.

Otis: Right away Mr. Luthor.

(Superman just looks at Otis harshly)

Otis: I don't think he wants me to Mr. Luthor.
That scene, in a roll playing game, would have Superman's player saying something like "I look at Otis as if to say, no you're not taking my cape." And the GM should have Superman's player roll Intimidation. No abuse. No violence. But Otis was clearly intimidated.

Now here's the thing, if the cost of Presence was more equitable to its associated skills, 90% of player characters would be walking around with a Presence score of 5 or higher. The player will say "I want my character to be impressive", jack up the Presence attribute, and call it a day.

Because of the inequity, though, it makes people stop to think about it, maybe. At least if they're math savvy. (If they aren't math savvy they just jack up the Presence attribute and call it a day.) But because of the inequity, it makes the players who are concerned about points actually stop and think about their character's interaction skill.

Say, one is building the cinematic Captain America. If one pays attention, one realises that Steve Rogers doesn't have a high Presence. He has a phenomenal Persuasion score (see the Intercom scene in Captain America: Winter Soldier), and a good Intimidation score ("Before we start, does anyone want to get out"), but Steve is, as Nat puts it, "a terrible liar." Steve's Deception score is low. If he successfully lies, it's because "his player rolled well", or narrative necessity.

If someone is intimidating, and persuasive, and a good liar, then yes, they should have a high Presence. The cinematic James Bond, maybe. Or some versions of Batman.

The other thing that Intimidation in the game does is the "Demoralize" action. Cast your minds back to 1966...
Riddler: The Bomb! It'll go off any second!

Batman: Don't worry. I deactivated it.

Robin: And now we're going to deactivate you! (slams fist into open palm of other hand)

Riddler: There may be only four of us against the two of you. But we're not afraid! (As Riddler slides to a position behind his henchmen).
And for the rest of that round, and into the next round, the Riddler and his goons were clearly operating with a -2 to all their checks. Because the player of kid in the yellow cape rolled well on his Intimidation roll.

I think people forget about these kinds of applications to their skills.
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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by Batgirl III » Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:19 am

Beautifully explained Ken.
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Re: Reworking M&M 3e skills system

Post by Ken » Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:24 am

Batgirl III wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:19 am
Beautifully explained Ken.
Thank you.
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