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Offline Vladimir

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An Alternative to Levels and Classes
« on: December 31, 2021, 06:07:11 PM »
  I'm not keen on level or classes. I ask the players, "So, what level and class am I?"
Fred: "10th Level Air Traffic Controller, retired."
Me: "Only 10th?"
Fred: "Whatever the max is..."

  But a person is not his job, a person is the sum of his skills. You are what you do.
As a soldier, we were annually tested to make sure we retained the skills believed to be appropriate for our occupations and respective ranks. Our standards were listed in a small pamphlet similar to this: https://www.milsci.ucsb.edu/sites/secure.lsit.ucsb.edu.mili.d7/files/sitefiles/resources/STP%2021-1-SMCT,%20Warrior%20Skills,%20Level%201.pdf

  During the Medieval Period guilds held considerable wealth and political power, over which many historians debate as to their benefits and detrimental effects on society. Guilds were first recorded to exist in Sumer and they are still present in the form of private artisan societies and as labor unions, whose benefits and detriments to society are still up for debate.
  Professional guilds provided a skill based rating system that was used to regulate the wages for a worker's labor. A Master could demand more than a Journeyman and a Journeyman could ask for more than an Apprentice. In that respect, a guild could be expected to ensure that a customer received the quality he expected at a uniform price. Guilds were the repositories of knowledge and were responsible for training and reviewing the skills of members.
   As a guild member, a man had to meet a certain level of skill on a set number of tasks that would be observed or inspected in order to advance to the next rank. A furniture maker might be given the plans for a cabinet with a set time limit to build the project from a pile of wood to showroom floor condition. There were similar tests for the members of other guilds.
  Guilds also imposed restrictions: A man who used a lathe to manufacture metal products was forbidden to turn wood items and vice versa.

  How can a non-level system work? Games that use pure skill systems, like Battletech and Element Masters (later released as Gatewars) award points to improve skills at regular intervals, such as after each session or after concluding a mission. Sometimes the players are allotted points during routine down time.
  In RM, each level is awarded upon achieving so many experience points and upon reaching that level, a player is awarded DP with which to allocate among his skills. Easy enpugh -If I have 75 DP and the point difference between Level 4 and 5 is 10,000 then 10K divided by 75 would be 133.33 rounded down to 133. So every 133 experience points equals 1 DP.
What prevents a player from just putting points into the same skill? Skills that have received points could be marked every 75 DP/10K EP so they won't be over-allocated to a particular skill. In Gatewars a skill didn't advance until a player used the skill and both succeeded and failed with that skill, which made advancing higher skills much slower, while in Battletech advanced skills cost more.
After 5th level, the experience cost between levels is 20,000 so the points for each DP doubles to 266.66 rounded to 267. 

  Instead of awarding experience points, a GM could award a player's DP in increments up to 100%.

  Let me know your thoughts and ideas.
 
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are hardly aware that he exists.
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Offline Cory Magel

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Re: An Alternative to Levels and Classes
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2021, 07:08:07 PM »
RM is really a hybrid of a level and a skill based system.  The levels are really just there for use when doing things like making contested rolls, like someone trying to charm you.
Professions are also best thought of as aptitudes.  What you're good at (i.e. easier/cheaper to develop).

You've suggested what I would for giving out DP over the course of a levels progression without having to mess with RM's mechanics too much.  Not sure how you'd want to limit overbuying anything specific, but the best way to avoid that is have a diverse game where over-weighing any particular aspect of development would leave you at a severe disadvantage elsewhere.  The best way to discourage combat monsters is have an equal amount of non-combat oriented material.

Personally when/if I ran another game I'd just tell the players when to level, typically between sessions.  It saves a lot of time and allowed you to control the pace of the campaign.
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Offline Vladimir

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Re: An Alternative to Levels and Classes
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2021, 07:41:19 PM »
RM is really a hybrid of a level and a skill based system.  The levels are really just there for use when doing things like making contested rolls, like someone trying to charm you.
Professions are also best thought of as aptitudes.  What you're good at (i.e. easier/cheaper to develop).

You've suggested what I would for giving out DP over the course of a levels progression without having to mess with RM's mechanics too much.  Not sure how you'd want to limit overbuying anything specific, but the best way to avoid that is have a diverse game where over-weighing any particular aspect of development would leave you at a severe disadvantage elsewhere.  The best way to discourage combat monsters is have an equal amount of non-combat oriented material.

Personally when/if I ran another game I'd just tell the players when to level, typically between sessions.  It saves a lot of time and allowed you to control the pace of the campaign.
  I'm just tossing around ideas and alternatives, I have a strong preference for skill based games, and find the idea of levels kind of a dinosaur.
As a GM, I wouldn't care if a player devoted ALL of his DP to favor a skill -Doing so shorts other skills and the rank mods render diminishing returns the higher the rank becomes. 
  Contested rolls could be handled through RRs modified by certain (to be determined) related skills.

  Thanks for your input!
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Offline B Hanson

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Re: An Alternative to Levels and Classes
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2021, 08:10:48 PM »
Welcome to the forums! I've been running a "no-profession" and mostly no-level Shadow World game for quite some time. We have many discussions on this topic over at the Rolemasterblog as wel. Here are several posts from a variety of contributors (they post here as well):

https://www.rolemasterblog.com/no-professions-professions/

https://www.rolemasterblog.com/no-profession-level-less-house-rules/

https://www.rolemasterblog.com/rolemaster-professions-another-take/

https://www.rolemasterblog.com/musings-professions-necessary-rolemaster/

https://www.rolemasterblog.com/can-professionless-provide-detail-rm2/

https://www.rolemasterblog.com/nature-vs-nurture-emphasis-stats-professions/

https://www.rolemasterblog.com/shadow-world-religions-rolemaster-professions/

https://www.rolemasterblog.com/rmc-house-rules-character-creation-5-profession/









www.RolemasterBlog.com
Other stuff I've written: https://tinyurl.com/yxrjjmzg
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Offline Vladimir

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Re: An Alternative to Levels and Classes
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2021, 10:24:47 PM »
Excellent!

 I got a chance to look over your house rules and they are very much in the direction I'm looking. I want a diceless generation system that allows every player the chance to assemble and play the character they wish to play, so a point-purchase character generation works very well.
  I'd use points to buy background training and starting equipment, as well.
Example: Want to play a Cleric? Spend 20 points and 12 months to start as a Neophyte with a level in three lists. More points buy more skills/training and maybe some related gear.

  I even GMed games with a diceless system -I used computer generated rolls and had players simply declare their actions. It was very popular with most players as it moved very quickly. One player hated it because he couldn't use his "lucky" dice...which he always had to "warm up" before making his "real roll"... I told him the diceless system was created entirely due to his dice fetish.
When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
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Offline B Hanson

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Re: An Alternative to Levels and Classes
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2022, 03:41:11 PM »
and one more...https://www.rolemasterblog.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=6966&action=edit
www.RolemasterBlog.com
Other stuff I've written: https://tinyurl.com/yxrjjmzg
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Offline jdale

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Re: An Alternative to Levels and Classes
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2022, 07:20:54 PM »
RMU has an optional rule to just award DP instead of XP if you prefer to do things that way. It requires more frequent character updates but your PCs may enjoy that. Aside from that, it's a pretty trivial change.

I don't really care for classes/professions in modern and SF settings. I've also run a cross-genre game so it would have been a bit awkward there too. I was heavily into GURPS for a while, which has neither classes nor levels. But I think levels do a better job of encouraging a wider skill base (pure points-based systems don't have much to prevent extreme specialization and that's what I saw), and as a GM levels make it easier to assess what foes I can throw at the party. Classes/professions help people think about what role they want to play in a party of cooperating players; those archetypical roles are easy to grasp. So for fantasy, despite trying some alternatives, I've come back to preferring professions and levels.
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Offline Wolfwood

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Re: An Alternative to Levels and Classes
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2022, 01:23:04 AM »
My personal preference is a mix of MERP/RM and Runequest (and this is a mix that I use in the system I'm presently working on). The latter is a professionless/levelless skill-based system and I'd copy how it handles skill progression over to a simplified (fewer separate skills) version of Rolemaster (perhaps using MERP as a basis and adding some skills). Runequest simply gives you experience points to individual skills as they are being used successfully - allowing you to roll for skill increase for each of them at a suitable rest period in the story (= roll higher than your present skill bonus on D100 to increase). Thus, you develop in the skills that you actually use or train in as the game progresses.

Offline Ecthelion

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Re: An Alternative to Levels and Classes
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2022, 11:05:08 AM »
  How can a non-level system work? Games that use pure skill systems, like Battletech and Element Masters (later released as Gatewars) award points to improve skills at regular intervals, such as after each session or after concluding a mission. Sometimes the players are allotted points during routine down time.
RM also awards points to improve skills at regular intervals. These intervals are 10,000 XPs in the beginning and later increase. And yes, along with this the "level" of the PC's skills increase. But this "level" label is only an abstract attribute on a meta-level that describes how often the PC was able to increase his skills and thus roughly tells how powerful he his. It's nothing a PC would really know of or even tell someone else "I'm a 10th level Rogue". So far in this debate I can only see an advantage for a system using levels because this quick power estimation based on this level attribute is available.
Quote
In RM, each level is awarded upon achieving so many experience points and upon reaching that level, a player is awarded DP with which to allocate among his skills. Easy enpugh -If I have 75 DP and the point difference between Level 4 and 5 is 10,000 then 10K divided by 75 would be 133.33 rounded down to 133. So every 133 experience points equals 1 DP.
What prevents a player from just putting points into the same skill? Skills that have received points could be marked every 75 DP/10K EP so they won't be over-allocated to a particular skill. In Gatewars a skill didn't advance until a player used the skill and both succeeded and failed with that skill, which made advancing higher skills much slower, while in Battletech advanced skills cost more.
After 5th level, the experience cost between levels is 20,000 so the points for each DP doubles to 266.66 rounded to 267. 

  Instead of awarding experience points, a GM could award a player's DP in increments up to 100%.

  Let me know your thoughts and ideas.
Yes, a GM could award DPs instead of levels. The problem is indeed how to avoid that e.g. a Fighter would increase his primary weapon skill (cost of 1/5) by one rank everytime he gets a new DP. Don't get me wrong, such a mechanic can certainly be found, even though I think it's not that straightforward to implement for RM, with it's skill results from Blunder over Partial Success to Absolute Success and its attack results from Fumble over a few hits up to many hits accompanied by a critical. But it needs to be devised.

I just wonder what's the gain of such a level-less system. On the plus side I see that a player can more often get his PC improved by gaining a skill rank in some skill area. Is there anything else? If players want this and see more progress for their PCs, then a completely different approach might be to award more XPs and level faster. E.g. I have often heard that GMs are awarding ~1500 XP per PC after a ~5 hour session. We tried to use the RM2/RMFRP XP system with its first time XP multipliers etc. for years and got used to 8,000-15,000 XP per PC for an ~8 hour session. That way you can progress your skills almost every session in the beginning of a PC's career.

And what's the downside of using level-less Rolemaster? You'd have to at least come up with your own system that regulates when a skill can be increased again and for which costs. E.g. a Fighter might certainly quickly spend 1 DP for his first rank in his primary weapon but then should probably spend 5 DPs for the second rank. And then, after some time he could develop the next two ranks. If using a variant like in Gatewars then this might involve quite some book-keeping in order to keep track of the success and failure for every skill. Btw., you may recuce the amount of book-keeping considerably if you keep the levels in the system but hand out DPs in portions, so that they don't get let's say 50 DPs for a full level but instead 5 times get 10 DPs. So the players still can increase skills of their characters a bit more often than only once per level and at the same time the book-keeping is greatly reduced because you only need to track which skills got already increased since the last level.

Offline Vladimir

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Re: An Alternative to Levels and Classes
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2022, 01:52:29 PM »
  I consider a DP dump ever level a complication of the game -Instead of casually allocating your DP while you earn them, a player has to take the time to "do homework" instead of gaming to spend a pile of DP before playing. In Gatewar two boxes on same line as the skill with all the multipliers indicated where a player would use a pencil to place a checkmark in the appropriate box; The bookkeeping of yes/no was not complicated at all and even simpler with a spreadsheet. Skill advancement would occur during gameplay without a moment's pause other than a player's short celebratory victory dance.
  Battletech uses a similar system with skill failure and critical success adding to experience and a player could also increase skills by spending time and money on training courses.
 
  A professionless system makes players far more cautious. A party could all have the same or similar equipment. That guy with the halberd might be a mage with a stylized staff. In some worlds, magic use might be universal, with the inability to use magic being the exception (as in the series Black Clover, where everyone used magic but the hero).
When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
-Lao Tzu