There have been some questions that came up about the rules, in specific the “why?” of certain design decisions. So here are some answers. Page references are to the 0.1a release of the Alpha Test rules.
Attributes (p. 1)
Q1. Why do Attributes only give a small boost to skills? Doesn’t that make them redundant?
A1. Attributes do contribute but a small amount to skills, but their full numeric value is used in other places. Endurance is the base Rating for Toughness, and characters heal a # of Wounds equal to their Endurance each day. Strength is the base Damage Rating for hand to hand combat, and determines how much a character can Lift and Carry. Dexterity is used in Initiative. Other attributes have other uses, based on their full Ratings.
So, the full scale is used, just not for skills.
Q2. Why not just add plusses directly to the Attribute?
A2. This decision arose from a balance issue. When a totally average person with the most minimal of training has a skill of 9 (attribute 8 +1), the character arc of power (the development curve) is very short.
Within a short amount of time, characters become more powerful than any plausible opponents. With a smaller contribution from Attributes, there’s a wider range of plausible skill ratings, and a wider range of opponents.
This decision also means that Dexterity and Intellect are less powerful than they would be, because they contribute much less to their linked skills.
Ties vs. DR (p.6)
Q. Why doesn’t a character succeed if their Skill Total equals the Difficulty Rating?
A. In combat, a tie goes to the defender. The same goes for Skill Challenges. For Skill Challenges, in order to defeat the Challenge, you must beat the Challenge.
There’s a dirty little secret, though: with Declarations (+1 bonus), players can (in effect) move back to “ties win”. DM’s don’t get a bonus for Declarations, they’re expected to be describing things. Players do. It’s a subtle way to encourage in-character and in-world descriptions and play.
So if you want a tie to win, toss out a Declaration.
Doubles are Trouble (p. 8)
Q. I’m not so sure about this. Doesn’t this happen an awful lot?
A. Disasters and Mishaps are intended to be colorful and interesting, not punitive. In fact, I’m writing a section for the rules to explain this better. Used correctly, they add to the game.
However, I’m keeping an eye on them. If it seems like they’re too disruptive or punitive, I’ll adjust the mechanic.
# Wounds (p. 9)
Q. Why can’t I take more Wounds if I have a higher Endurance?
A. Because it would be a broken mechanic. Each point of Endurance already means you take 1 less Wound. So, 1 point of END = 1 Wound. If a point of END also meant you could take one more point of Wounds without negative consequences, each point would equal 2 Wounds.
There’s no need to double the efficacy of END. It’s one of the more powerful stats already, right behind DEX.
Also, this maintains scalability. Under the current rules, I can scale characters from human (4-8-12), to superhuman (20-50+), to cosmic (150+) and all the rules work exactly the same.
A fight between two characters, one with Attack 20 and the other with Defense 15, is exactly the same as a battle between an Attack 50 and Defense 45. This makes the system much more robust, and easily adaptable to a Superhero setting (something other systems sometimes have trouble scaling to).
(Although, since you heal END wounds per day, once your END is above 20, you heal all Wounds in 1 day. I’m thinking of a rule for Supers, characters with 20+ attributes, where each 5 END points past 20 cuts that time roughly in half. END 25 = heal all Wounds in 12 hours. 40 = 1 hour. 60 = 5 min. 80 = 10 seconds or 1 round. So a character with END 80 could heal all Wounds in 10 seconds of resting. That’s perfect for a supers game. And a Regeneration power could duplicate those effects.)
Attack skills vs. Combat Interaction skills (pg. 12)
Q. Why can’t combat skills do all the same things Combat Interaction skills can?
A. Balance and color. The whole point of Combat Interaction skills is to give non-kill characters ways to be effective, and to encourage the kind of banter and interactions seen in action movies.
Combat skills already kill, they don’t need to duplicate the effects of Combat Interaction skills. It would make CI skills irrelevant. As-is, CI skills offer unique capabilities, making them worthwhile and encouraging their use.
There are some other questions that were asked during the playtest and in the surveys. I’ll answer those ASAP.