I've been doing research on the whole thing of Abilities VS Skills on "The Forge" website. This is not a new issue, and apparently it's fraught with exchange-rate troubles that we
MUST take into consideration if we want a balanced game. Apparently, SO many attempts have been made to avoid "bean counting", that some people believe it's impossible when you differentiate between abilities and skills, and so some of the newer independent systems have given up all together and labelled everything under one name (since, after all, it
IS only the "effective score", i.e. the score after all calculations, that matters).
Min/Maxing thrives in the Abilities/Skills environment. In typical games, it is MUCH better to up your ability than your skill, because they have the same influence on the effective
score, but the ability applies to a MUCH wider range of possible effective scores. EG Dexterity has limitless applications, while "Pick Pockets" has only a narrow range of
uses. This is EXACTLY why you'll see min/maxers fighting over (1) character race, which has direct influence over character abilities, and (2) magic items that also have direct
influence over character abilities.
Our original idea won't work. Racial Numerators, Skill Denominators (or whatever). This is just more exchange rates, except that the players have even MORE control over the rates of exchange. However, I don't want to just blend abilities and skills into one mechanic, like the newer systems do, because I LIKE the separation. It's very colorful and interesting. On
the other hand, I can't outright ban min-maxing (because everyone does it to some extent, and others find it fun to do).
How do we KEEP the abilities/skills seperation but still encourage well-rounded characters.
It's not enough to hide the bean-counting in complex math, like some systems do.
STR - STRENGTH
COR - COORDINATION (ie body)
DEX - DEXTERITY (ie hand-eye)
STA - STAMINA
INS - INSIGHT
INT - INTELLIGENCE
CNF - CONFIDENCE
WIT - WIT
GUI - GUILE
WIL - WILL
How about using skill multipliers? Here's a list, from most general to least general:
Type Example Name Input Multiplier Output Cost
Attribute Dexterity 1 x1 1 High
Profession Sailing 1 x2 2 Near High
Skill Slashing Weapon 1 x5 5 Medium
Specialization Longsword 1 x10 10 Low
Not bad! A player who tries to generalize too much won't get as many skills, but a player who tries to specialize too much will be fucked when out of his element. Force everything to fall into one of the above four categories, and then figure out a SPECIFIC rate of conversion. This rate of conversion should make it very, very difficult to choose whether to specialize or generalize. The advantages of both should be obvious.
OOH! ALSO.. allow players to upgrade in stages. If a person takes the "Slashing Weapon" skill, then a specialization into Longsword should be that much cheaper. This will encourage both. A single, lone specialization (i.e. with no Skill underneath) will be the least common because it will only be useful in specific circumstances.
AND, going from Skill --> Specialization should be easier, cheaper. However, going from Specialization --> Skill should be harder. The discount should be a lot smaller than the
discount you get from Skill --> Specialization.
We could have a conversion similar to our old racial/skill thingy, but for the above four categories depending on usefulness.
Attribute Name Input Factor Output
Strength 1 3 +1/3 Strength (most related possible skills)
Dexterity 1 2 +1/2 Dexterity (some related possible skills)
Confidence 1 1 +1 Confidence (few related possible skills)
These factors might change from world to world, setting to setting. In a high-intrigue/drama
game, the factors listed above might be reversed.