Radical New Changes Pre-Publication to MYFAROG Skill System

So, the news is that MYFAROG is doing away with its skill system in favor of XP based point-buy. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the overall system.

Originally, rather than using XP, MYFAROG used a system not too dissimilar from the old FF2/Daggerfall skill-grind. The idea was that improving skill is something of an upward curve; while it wasn’t hard to learn a basic skill and improve it somewhat, the higher your mastery, the longer it took to improve. It was an interesting idea, and not something you saw in tabletop games too often. But as Varg himself pointed out, you don’t want the tabletop version of taping down the run button in Morrowind and leaving your character to run against a wall to grind athletics.

So, now he’s implementing an XP based system which we have yet to see. As clunky as the old skill system might have been (I don’t really like skill systems in general for tabletop games), I can’t say I’m a huge fan of point-buy systems either. Well, okay, the old white-wolf point-buy system held up alright for what was essentially a rules lite game focused on story, but I’ve seen 3.5e Eclipse stuff that boggles the mind.  If he has gone the XP route, I’m hoping Varg took my suggestion to better flesh out the Power Levels to something equivalent to the 3e CR rating system.

When I do get the final version of MYFAROG, if I end up running it, it will undoubtedly be with some of my own tweaks and adjustments (c’mon, who doesn’t houserule things a bit?). Luckily, this time I’ll be approaching it with some more experience with both GMing and game design under my belt, so I might make some changes of my own to keep the old skill rules, or a variant of it. Recently a friend introduced me to Altars and Archetypes, which is a ruleslite system that allows for pretty infinite flexibility in character creation; you choose your character’s archetypes/roles (so you can have a Pirate/Wizard/Baker) and you roll dice of varying sides based on your character’s experience in that role to perform tasks. You’ve been a pirate for a long time, so you’d roll 1d12 for pirating tasks; you’ve been studying magic for the last year, so you’d roll 1d8 for casting spells; you’ve recently taken up baking, though you’re not very good at it yet, so you’d roll 1d6 when you’d try to bake something. That’s a silly example, but you get the idea.

Since MYFAROG is essentially a “Job” based game, I think that a similar system could be swapped out if you didn’t want to use point-buy or the crunchier Skill system. You’d simply have to take into account what each job/role is and the skills/abilities they grant you in MYFAROG and translate that to the flexible skill system.  I don’t know.  It’s something I might look at.

Most of all, I’m itching to read the portions of the worldbuilding and background info that was dummied out of the playtest version. Once it’s out or once I know more about the changes Varg has made, I’ll start fleshing out ideas, maybe even write up a module or something.


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11 responses to “Radical New Changes Pre-Publication to MYFAROG Skill System

  1. It’s very easy to exchange the XP buy system with a level based system or the old ‘skill grind’ system.

    I’ve made many changes since the play-test version, by the way, making the system less clunky.

    • Cool. I’m looking forward to it. I don’t think that a leveling system would be too bad, provided that the levels only indirectly affected the character roles. Really, the Role system of MYFAROG is its most innovative and interesting aspect. I think a lot can be done with that aspect of the game alone.

      • I removed the Scutarus/Scutaria role though. It was just a Paladin clone and didn’t really work for a non-monotheistic religion like the one in MYFAROG.

        What I have spent most of the time on is making everything fit well with everything else.

        Oh, and I added the ability to bargain, and also gems with sorcerous effect. So you can enchant items, engrave them with runes *and* put gems on them, to make pretty cool ‘magic’ items.

        Some of the gems are pretty cool, I think. E. g. I included the ‘wounding gem’ and the ‘bleeding gem’, talked about in (I think it was) the Norse saga, making the person wounded by a sword with such a gem in the hilt heal slower/start to bleed easier.

        Further, I made the Talents count more (+2 instead of just +1), removed Dodging as an ‘improvable’ skill, but only as a Dex bonus, with S-mod for certain talents and also a few Character Roles. I made the Sorcerer’s Speciality matter more, added a few weapons, made character generation faster, added a Hamingja-factor (meaning that if your character lives and dies with Honour the player will get some bonuses to his next Character), etc. etc. etc.

      • That all sounds really interesting. I’m a fan of unique and customized magical items as opposed to flat bonuses.

  2. Better flesh out the Power Levels?

    You mean I should better explain what they mean, right? I recall somebody saying something about that to me… I guess that was you? ;-)

    • Yeah, probably me. I remember that there was a short blurb explaining that in lieu of completely rolling up NPCs or monsters, power-levels could be used to sort of eye-ball it, but in the original draft the power levels themselves and what they represented weren’t really established.

      I kind of figured that PL 1 might have been a baseline of a starting adventurer, or something, but since that version didn’t use levels, one couldn’t easily extrapolate what the variance in PL might have meant.

      • It’s just an abstraction of power, meaning (the obvious) that e. g. 1 is less than 10, and 20 more than 5. You know.

        As I understood it, you wanted to know ‘how’ powerful e. g. a PL 15 creature is, not least in relation to a PL 5 creature. What is 15 in this context?

        I have included a generic system for creating characters, where it says that PL 3 is ‘the average civilian’. Then you can add 3 PL for every non-civilian character role that character has (and adjust for race, from -2 to +2). So a typical ‘villain’ race warrior has PL 4 (3 + 3 – 2 {the latter is the race mod}). A normal man warrior is PL 6. Oh, and you can adjust for experience too: novice? Veteran? Chieftain? High priest? Then you add from +0 to +15, meaning the best generic (…) NPC elite warriors will have PL 3 + 3 + 15, and then -2 to +2 for race.

        Now, I don’t recall if that system was there in the play-test version, but I do know that I have made so many changes to this, and it works very well now. I have also included NPC character sheets (1/4 the size of a sheet), so that you can make an NPC and record the game data about that NPC in a few seconds.

        Oh, yeah: I included a table for NPC personalities too, giving the GM a tool to quickly and randomly generate one or more strong personality traits for any NPC the players might encounter. The list is pretty comprehensive, and — again – the race of the NPC influence the result.

        (… well: not the players: their characters might encounter NPCs that is. The players don’t encounter anything at all… :-/)

        The GM can of course also generate NPCs the way the players generate their PCs, but most of the time the GM will need ‘fast solutions’.

        PS. As a very general rule, PL = the NPCs skill proficiency in his character role skills, and most of the time 1/3 of the PL is his proficiency with his other skills.

      • Yeah, that new system defining PL wasn’t there last time. This helps a lot.

        The NPC character sheets sounds like a great idea, too. Your character creation system is more thorough than most villains need, so a way to quickly calculate named foes is very useful.

        So, a PL 15 creature would be 3 times stronger than a creature who, though not his equal, would present a challenge to a normal warrior. Two warriors would have a tough time against it, three warriors should be able to best it.

      • In a sense yes.

        But a civilian PL 15 NPC has a mêlée proficiency of 5 (15 / 3), because mêlée is not a character role skill for a civilian. A warrior PL 15 has 16 in mêlée though (PL +1 for character role bonus). So it’s not just about fighting skill.

        For bows and crossbows PL = how much Str you need to have in order to use it. So a PL 2 bow means you need +2 Str to use it. Without the use of ‘belts of strength’ and such, PL 7 would be the most powerful a man of the strongest race can use.

        For Poison/Disease anything more than PL 10 will have an effect on the average man half the time. 15 will have an effect 75% of the time. 5 = 25% of the time. Etc.

      • Yeah, I remember that you had, in the playtest version, defined the PLs for spells, Poison/Disease and operating weapons/equipment.

        Part of my initial confusion was the same rating was also used for NPCs/Monsters, but lacked the similar degrees of differentiation in the definitions.

        So, I figure for any character, at bare minimum you need to know their PL and their character roles. I’d imagine that any monster or animal’s power-level would be measured against its abilities at hunting/tracking/fighting commensurate to an equivalent PC role. Knowing that there’s a “rule of three” for figuring out how PL can be extrapolated to stats helps, too.

        So, let me see if I’m understanding: Non-Role skills = PL/3 and Role skills = PL + 1, and all skills are modified by the appropriate base and racial modifiers? If so, that works as pretty good shorthand.

      • Yes, the GM only needs to write down the character role and PL of the NPC (and I guess also race), and then he can use the standard formula to get the ‘stats’.

        Yes. Non-role = PL / 3. Role = PL + 1. Then there are three exceptions: Stamina is 12 + (the non-role or the role bonus). Tempo = 40 (+5 * Str). Fortitude = PL + Wil.

        Toughness is 3 + Con and Size mod (both usually +0). So Toughness is 3 pretty much for every NPC, unless it’s a Heros or a Þulr (and then it would be 4) or a Skrælingr (new race) or Alfaborinn (and then it would be 2). Not too hard to remember.

        List of the racial modifiers are included right next to the ‘base formula info’, for quick reference.

        I’ve also listed the ‘traditional’ warrior types, with a set of weapons and armour, that a warrior from a particular region would typically use.

        So it is a very fast way to generate NPCs on the fly.

        PS. Oops. I lied before, when I used mêlee as an example of a character role skill: the offensive value (for mêlée and missile) is actually a bit different from the other skills. Whilst play-testing myself, I realised that a very good fighter had absolutely no problem whatsoever winning over a poor fighter. Always. Every time. The normal range of the mêlée skill was like 1 to 15, and when you add the skill to the 3D6 result, the guy with 1 will pretty much always lose. To even out that a bit, I divided the offensive value by two, making the normal range 1 to 10 instead. The good fighter still wins most of the time, but he is no longer supreme and still risks something even if he fights against a poor fighter.

        So mêlée for civilian is PL / 4,for civilian, scout, priest and sorcerer, and / 2 (and + 1) for warrior and warrior-priest. (And instead / 6 for peasants in relation to missile weapons, and / 6 for hunter-gatherers in relation to mêlée weapons.)

        Naturally I did the same for the creatures (dividing the offensive value by two).

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