Q&A About the Prototype Five Moons RPG Character Sheet (Warrior)

 

A few days ago I posted a prototype warrior character sheet for Five Moons RPG (here’s a direct link to the full-sized character sheet preview). There were some questions on that blog post and on the kickstarter update about it, so this blog is about answering them (some of these are reposts of answers I already gave, with more info).

Why the dropping/consolidation of Charisma into Psyche? CHA has long been the redheaded stepchild of the various iterations of the game. If it’s not a primary stat for your character, it’s a dump stat. Unlike all other stats, it also represents something completely arbitrary according to race or culture (appearance)–an 18 CHA character is considered “attractive” to dwarves, elves, orcs, humans, halflings, aboleths, angels, demons, and lizardfolk. By dumping CHA and folding it and WIS into PSY, I get rid of a dump stat, consolidate internal-presence and external-presence into one stat, and lose the weirdness of a universal beauty standard. Not coincidentally, it means there are five stats instead of six, and five is a recurring theme in this game. 😉

Does the Energized Weapons ability let you use a boost for extra damage? Yep! Here’s the full text of that ability for the playtest document:

Energized Weapons: Choose one energy type (cold, electricity, or fire). When you damage a creature with a melee or ranged weapon (manufactured or natural weapons, but not spells), add 1 point of damage of this energy type to your weapon damage. Boost: Add an additional 5 points of energy damage of this type.

So the game has broad skills with some specific applications? Yes. In the same way that Pathfinder has the Craft, Knowledge, and Profession skills have many subskills, Five Moons RPG consolidates some skills, so (frex) Move covers acrobatics, climb, ride, and swim. Characters will be able to specialize within those subskills if they want. Structuring them like this allows characters to have a bonus on the broad skill (like, “warriors treat Move as a class skill”).

There’s an awfully large column for attacks. Will a typical character have a bunch of different attack options? I think it’s helpful if a player can pre-calculate modifiers to their attacks so there’s less on-demand math required. For example, Akiko’s player could have a separate line for using her longsword with Power Attack (updating the attack and damage bonuses in advance).

Where are the “Misc” skill bonuses coming from? Those are the warrior’s class skill bonuses.

In the center column, why does she have a +6 for her Weapon bonus ? That requires a bit of explanation.

I’ve long been annoyed that a 1st-level fighter’s attack bonus is only +1 more than a 1st-level cleric’s, rogue’s, or wizard’s attack bonus (+1 BAB vs. +0 BAB). Yes, the character’s ability scores and feats like Weapon Focus might enlarge that gap, but at the basic level “the character who is trained in all sorts of combat” is only 5% better than “the character who is somewhat trained” or even “the character who isn’t trained in weapons.”

Warriors in Five Moons RPG have an ability called warrior mastery, which increases their martial bonus by +5 (“martial bonus” is BAB, but only for weapons and natural attacks… there’s a similar sort of attack bonus for magical attacks). This has two main consequences.

One, it means warriors are really good at hitting things (as they should be). The warrior class is consistently better at hitting opponents than any other class.

Two, because abilities like Combat Expertise and Power Attack trade a flat –5 penalty to your attack roll, it means a warrior could use those sorts of abilities all the time (see earlier question about extra attack lines), spending the +5 from warrior mastery against the cost of those abilities, and still have a better attack bonus than a cleric, rogue, or wizard. If the warrior encounters a creature that is hard to hit, they can stop using those abilities and attack at their full potential (hitting more consistently).

Why does the warrior have such a low Resolve score? Currently it’s 2 + PSY at 1st level. I want to see how that goes in the playtest, but I don’t want warriors to be inherently bad at social interaction. It also depends on the mechanics of the multiple uses of the Resolve ability.

Because you have piecemeal armor, are you going to have separate hit locations for armor, or armor providing damage reduction, or temporary hit points? I think specific hit locations are a lot more complex than what I want to do with this game. Armor as DR is an interesting concept, but (likewise) a bit more than I want to get into with this game. AC is a simple concept and mechanically it does sort of represent damage reduction (frex, armor that adds +4 to your AC turns about 20% of the attacks against you into misses, so it’s “absorbing” those hits). Armor-as-temporary-hp is also an interesting idea, but I’d like to keep it simple.

Also, the listed armor “slots” on the character sheet are partly for the piecemeal armor system and partly relating to the magic item body slots. PF has a lot of magic item slots that an actual suit of armor covers: the actual armor slot, two layers of clothing under that (the body and chest slots), two slots over that (belts and shoulders/cloaks), three slots on the head (eyes, head, and headband), two more slots on the arms (hands and wrist), feet, and shields. The system needs a lot of work to make it less overlapping and redundant, and without the concerns of legacy items insisting on having their own slots (“What do you mean I can’t wear my helm of telepathy and my headband of vast intelligence at the same time?”)

What is the justification for Con as a stat? Because I think Con is different enough from Str (or any other ability score) that it has value in the game as its own thing. If there is strong playtest evidence to show that having Con as a separate stat is a liability, I’ll consider removing it.

Isn’t 6 health at 1st level really fragile? Remember, in Five Moons RPG, a 1st-level character is basically an apprentice, a much lower power (and competence) level than a 1st-level D&D or PF character. Just a step up from a commoner, really. A 3rd-level character in Five Moons RPG is about the equivalent of a 1st-level D&D or PF character, and will have about the same health as a character in that game.

With the lower starting point for ability scores, how are PCs supposed to beat Str checks to open doors or break things? Some of the skills also cover general applications of that ability—Move, for example, covers types of physical exertion, and is used for applications of brute strength.

How will the Resist progression work? I want to avoid 3E/PF’s problem that different progressions in each type of save means at high levels characters tend to autofail or autosucceed. I think it’s more consistent to give the same base progression for all three “saving throw” types, but (depending on your class) giving you a bonus at 1st level to your “good saves.” So if your good saves are +3 more than your bad saves at 1st level, they’ll be +3 more at 5th, 10th, 15th, and so on (modified by your ability scores, special items, and so on). So you won’t have a situation where an incoming enemy attack Fort save DC is an autofail for the rogue and wizard (because Fort is a bad save for those classes) and an autosuccess for the cleric and fighter (because Fort is a good save for those classes).

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

I’ve also been working on:

  • Creating the Five Moons RPG equivalents of rogue talents and low-level spells (and wow, rogue talents are sad and are getting a power-up).
  • Creating prototype rogue and wizard character sheets (expect those next week).
  • Once the rogue and wizard prototypes are done, I can finish the Example of Play video (I have the script written for it and will be recording the dialogue this weekend, so all that will remain is creating the visuals).
  • Discussion of martial/arcane balance and how those paths will look.

If you like this post and where these ideas are going, please check out the kickstarter for my Five Moons RPG, which uses these ideas. Thanks!

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16 thoughts on “Q&A About the Prototype Five Moons RPG Character Sheet (Warrior)

  1. Great to hear you elaborate on these questions and show the Energized Weapons ability that interested me. Interesting there’s no acid damage and that the game still defines a separation of manufactured and natural weapons.

    One of the first things I learned when getting into tabletop RPGs a couple of years ago was that you can learn a lot about a game by looking at its character sheet.

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  2. First thing, I guess my projections weren’t that accurate after all eh? The warrior had a +7 on Longswording, where is the other +1 coming from? (+5 class, +1 str, +1 ???).

    ” So if your good saves are +3 more than your bad saves at 1st level, they’ll be +3 more at 5th, 10th, 15th, and so on (modified by your ability scores, special items, and so on).”

    This I feel confused by, are you saying there is no actual save progressions, or that its 3 per 5 levels? (So +6 at 5th, +9 at 10th, +12 15th, +15 at 20th, +20 at 25th) If it’s the former

    “Currently it’s 2 + PSY at 1st level. I want to see how that goes in the playtest, but I don’t want warriors to be inherently bad at social interaction. It also depends on the mechanics of the multiple uses of the Resolve ability.

    Actually, if you have the social system in a playable state, you could actually mathhammer this out now, figure out if the current value(s) you set for this or other give classes is level appropriate. Opposed to us waiting several months down the line, and seeing if the feedback would help it improve or not. Currently, it makes Warriors become “glass cannons” in Social interactions, where its an all or nothing approach, where they best hit hard with their social abilities OR else…they basically drop from the Encounter (very least, in the low levels). Making that score equal for everyone, would likely put equal footing far as “inherent sociability” values go. Personally, I’d be willing to take a look at it, and see if I could deliver any mathematical analysis, or run it through for ya.

    Lastly here, what do you mean by the Bolded part? I know you’ve said it’s not just Mental/Social? HP, and will have uses in the Social Combat, will it be serving more as a “MP/Mana” Resource during that?

    ” (and wow, rogue talents are sad and are getting a power-up).”
    Yeah…this is a common problem in most RPG’s, Rogues tend to have a strained identity, since they and Warrior types have been strongly entwined for years (Conan the barbarian is a famous example of a guy who stealths and has muscly thews, among many other examples). Primarily because what skills they have, Warriors in various medias have as well. So hopefully you’ll figure out a way to make them different, than em having random “smoke” bombs like abilities, that Dragon Age, Guild Wars 2, and so forth have done (now “making them” is cool, just arbitrarily having them for the attack, only they can use them, and so on, is lame).

    “If there is strong playtest evidence to show that having Con as a separate stat is a liability, I’ll consider removing it.”
    Could you explain what “evidence” that it would have to be to bring that consideration? Math-wise, this is something you can simply look at now, and make that comparison.

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    • {where is the other +1 coming from? (+5 class, +1 str, +1 ???).}
      +1 BAB, +1 STR, +5 warrior mastery bonus.

      {This I feel confused by, are you saying there is no actual save progressions, or that its 3 per 5 levels? (So +6 at 5th, +9 at 10th, +12 15th, +15 at 20th, +20 at 25th)}
      Neither. It means if at 1st level your base saves (unmodified by ability scores or anything else) are +3, +0, +0, that means your good save is +3 better than your bad saves. And that relationship continues at higher level. So if at 10th level your good save is a +7, your bad saves would be +4 and +4 (because +7 is +3 better than +4). And if at 20th level your good save is +12, your bad saves would be +9 and +9 (because +12 is +3 better than +9). In other words: no matter what your level is, your base good save is always 3 better than your base bad save.

      {Actually, if you have the social system in a playable state, you could actually mathhammer this out now}
      I don’t have it in a playable state right now, otherwise I would at least make an attempt to figure it out.

      {will [Resolve] be serving more as a “MP/Mana” Resource during that?}
      Yes, it’ll also be a spendable resource.

      {Could you explain what “evidence” that it would have to be to bring that consideration?}
      For example, if there is a strong indication that characters need to pump CON to make sure their characters survive, or that characters who leave CON at the default value are very fragile.

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      • That’s not the evidence against CON that I’d recommend, and you could fix that sort problem just as easily by tweaking your algorithm. I’d like you to pay more attention to whether the characters who focus on CON end up doing cool, interesting things as often as the people with low CON do.

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  3. Are the names for skills set in stone or are they likely to change? One thing I liked about skills in PF/3.5 is that the skills were named what they did – Climb let you climb, Acrobatics let you do acrobatic things. Obviously some were not as clear as they could have been (lookin’ at you, Linguistics), but generally the skills were what they said on the tin. I think that helped playability and sped up playtime at the table, too, because the most basic and commonly-used skills were pretty clearly labelled and (considering the huge number of skills) easy to find. Similarly, even if I don’t have ranks in Acrobatics the fact that it’s there on my character sheet at least serves as a reminder that I can attempt something acrobatic if I want/need to.

    Judging from your prototype sheet it looks like it might be difficult to intuit or remember precisely what my character can do (in terms of Skills) if I haven’t earned some sort of Skill Specialisation. Is my character capable of climbing, despite no specialisation? Instinct would say yes, obviously, but the character sheet gives me no indication of that – there’s nothing (on the character sheet) that says precisely what Move entails or what skill actually enables climbing. At the table, I don’t want to have to be digging out the Five Moons PHB just to see if the appropriate skill check to ride a mount is Move or Manipulation or Influence, either.

    Basically, your character sheet tells me the numbers I need, but it doesn’t tell me what I can actually -do-. Might it be worthwhile to list Specialisations under the appropriate main Skill. Diplomacy and Intimidate under (presumably) Influence; Climb, Ride, Swim and Acrobatics under Move? Formatted so that Move (or Influence, or Manipulation, etc.) takes precedence and you can easily add numbers to that base figure based on the appropriate specialisations (because we can assume that some things, like Akiko’s +5 while climbing, will be added EVERY time Akiko is climbing)? And then a smaller space underneath for writing extremely specific conditionals (like +5 while persuading dwarves, for instance) that won’t be added every time that character is trying to persuade something (after all, not everybody is a dwarf). Just in an attempt to aid clarity and to help the character sheet become more actively didactic, rather than simply as a reminder of what my particular character can do. A blank character sheet, in my opinion, should still list everything that any character could do.

    Obviously, this is just a prototype and newer, better versions will come out in the future but this is one of the bigger concerns I have.

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    • {Are the names for skills set in stone or are they likely to change? One thing I liked about skills in PF/3.5 is that the skills were named what they did – Climb let you climb, Acrobatics let you do acrobatic things. Obviously some were not as clear as they could have been (lookin’ at you, Linguistics), but generally the skills were what they said on the tin.}

      They’re not set in stone. In practice, it might be better to list them out with the subskills, like how PF does for Knowledge. So you’d have a line for Move (acrobatics), Move (climb), and so on.

      I think that would also address your concern about “can I climb if I don’t have ranks in Move (climb)?”

      These talks are the reason it’s a prototype character sheet–what info I (as the designer) think should be in full view may be different than the info you (as the player) think should be displayed. 🙂

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      • “These talks are the reason it’s a prototype character sheet–what info I (as the designer) think should be in full view may be different than the info you (as the player) think should be displayed.”

        Indeed, I would be interested in seeing the eventual backpage to the character. That, I hope it would have enough room to not only write down all our stuff, treasure, & gear, but also enough room to write the details of what they do (for Gear, & abilities mainly). I know you’ve said a “mid-level” character could fit on 1-2? pages front to back, if you really wrote everything out. Something I liked about 4th edition’s “Character Builder” (August 2010 version & prior) was that it had a format that showed all what your powers & items did exactly. So I’d find that invaluable to be able to benefit from a format like that, As well as having room noting the calculations for Attack Rolls (you’ve already provided that sufficiently enough for Skills, and AC)

        ” In practice, it might be better to list them out with the subskills,”
        I can support the idea behind it, but I think it might be more sufficient to have it as subtitled under the major headed skill, and unless items will further effect specializations, probably only need a box or two (one for the total, other for spec)

        So it might look like:
        Move Done as normal in the link. Total, and Spec box for those skill functions below.
        Climb [ ] +[ ]
        Jump [ ] +[ ]
        Swim [ ] +[ ]
        Brawn [ ] +[ ]

        I’d assume the subtext functions would be slightly smaller as well, but still big enough to fill in numbers & stuff (No smaller than Skill columns from 3.5 D&D).

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  4. I have a question that is only tangentially related to this particular topic.

    When you were designing for Pathfinder and now for Fivemoons RPG, what was your general assumption?

    Did you assume that GM’s would take it upon themselves to ensure their players created useful characters that were not unbalanced by the preponderance of rules that when combined in certain ways could create unbalanced characters?

    I assume that this was the case, and that organized play campaigns were a pain in the butt for you, because of its strict Rules as Written mandate, table GMs did not have the ability to regulate what the players brought to the table. And the Campaign Coordinator likely had a mandate to allow as much as possible into the organized campaign. To make it as inclusive as possible.

    Have you considered adding something to your rules set that actually would apply a penalty to a character in some fashion that overly specialized in one thing? Like in the new show Scorpion, those guys are uber smart, but don’t deal with regular people very well (I think the show is more tap dancing around mental illnesses and autism spectrum issues rather than truly showing a smart person with a low psyche–I still feel it can be used as a good analogy). Is a dump stat of Psyche enough of a penalty for someone that uber-specializes in Intelligence? Or should someone who dumps Psyche and spends say 70% of their character build options (not considering gold expenditure) and resources on Intelligence based things actually get a further penalty to Psyche based things? Perhaps even an Armor Penalty because they are such an butthole that the enemy really, really wants to beat them up badly. Sorta an inverse morale bonus.

    I think a rule like this will help deter some of the concept of inappropriate min-maxing.

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    • RPGA/Organized RPG I can’t say I’d ever be a fan of, making D&D “official” like a sport isn’t really that interesting (point buy doesn’t feed to my tastes for one).

      Anyway giving actual penalties for people spending resources on the character they want to play is very bad, and only just ensures they won’t do anything other than what they put resources in. It’s unfair to the character(s) that may want to later on do something else as their resources increase, but now this arbitrary penalty would prevent them from doing so. If you’re looking for “penalties” it’d already be there in the form of them not having invested resources into those options in the first place. Like Akikko sample PC, she has no Dex, and thus no bonus to ranged attacks from a stat, in a way, that’s like a “penalty” albeit she’s not being penalized (it’s a trade-off). If say, you wanted that penalty to ranged to be further, just means she couldn’t sometimes just whip out a bow or such, without feeling even crappier about it.

      So no, don’t be adding BS rules that only seek to harm the game. If your game works as intended, no trap options, then people won’t feel the need to optimize (unless that’s something they wanna do, then which that’s their preference).

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      • Lets say FIvemoons RPG is popular, and Sean decides continuing a line of products (whether each through kickstarter or not), then at some point, there will be options available that allow a player to min-max so extremely, that the rules of the game cannot handle their build. You see this in Pathfinder. A GM can mitigate this by just upping the challenges. In an organized play campaign, you don’t have that luxury.

        So either, you spend the time to meticulously ensure that these loophole options don’t exist. Or you incorporate a penalty in the rules of the game for doing so, so that the designers can pump out more material with less meticulous attention to detail.

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    • (Doubt anyone cares bout this, but it was RPGA point buy I don’t care for, point buy is a good idea otherwise.)

      “you spend the time to meticulously ensure that these loophole options don’t exist.”

      Personally, if you’re going to leave it to two options, I’ll take the idea of designer(s) doing the hard work to mitigate loopholes, than arbitrary restrictions that only serve to make more one-dimensional characters. I suppose if you want that to be a thing for “Five Moons official play” or some such, then I would still decide against it, but I don’t do RPGA, so that would be whatever at that point.

      ” Sean decides continuing a line of products”

      SKR does intend to do a years line worth of products down the road actually. It’s apparently his intention that by having yearly? 32pg (rule)books or such, the amount of bloat and power disparity over time will be lessened**(though I believe any RPG needs to keep supplements in mind, and able to survive with their addition to the game). If it’s the case that rules material will come out slowly, then there more time can be spent to ensure its quality. Inevitably, supplements and overall play will change the gamestate over time, this will be useful for future products, especially for a High Level product release long down the road (once got the low-mid ironed out, have better idea what to expect for higher level content). As well as that seeing how minor stats are, there’s possibly room for supplements to add to that without breaking the game.

      Again, a random penalty goes against SKR’s desire to let people play the characters they want, and encouraging micromanaging of bonuses so they don’t receive these penalties is only raising the complexity. Much like in Shadowrun, The triangular costs for Karma to BP ratio, and Managing essence to cyberware costs for hyrbid Magic/tech PC’s, are quite overly complex for little gain. It’s not worth adding something like that in for a new game like this, and quite frankly is quite unneeded in the first place.

      **It was said in the Demiplane podcast at 23:30, where SKR explains his thought there:

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  5. “Creating prototype rogue and wizard character sheets (expect those next week).”

    I was wondering if there’s an ETA on when those are coming out? I understand you’re probably busy juggling multiple stuff right now, but I figured to ask all the same. I’m looking forward to seeing these, the video, among all else that’s still incoming.

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