The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

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cleaverthepit
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The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by cleaverthepit »

Since the release of C&C, not a few people have asked for clarification of when to add levels to attribute checks. I will procede the following by saying that, from a design perspective, the application is left murky in some areas. This was done for several reasons.

First: Many people use non-class based skill sets to 'describe' their character. This perforce results in the development of a non-class based skill system on the part of the CK and group. The rules had to be sufficiently adaptable to allow this.

Second: Enumerating, describing and codifying a specific and limitless list of instances in which to apply levels to attributes checks would ultimately be more confusing than clarifying and lead to innumerable counterproductive rules discussions, clarifications etc.

Third: To allow for the development of any future classes with specific skill sets, we wanted to avoid any potential overlap.

Now on to the points.

Level is always added to attribute checks in the following instances

Class based skills use

Saving throws

Other than specific rules (such as with turning) those are the only two times level is absolutely, necessarily added to the attribute check.

Now to the murky area.

As a general rule, level is added to all attribute checks that do not overlap with class based skills (for example, a fighter attempting to pick a pocket does not get to add their level to the check.) That is the general rule. The rule however, is written such that one might question its universal application - as should be the caseb (see 1-3 above).

There are simply too many variables in game play to make a hard and fast ruling as to when the level application occurs. As such, the decision is ultimately upon the CK and the players to create rulings. This can be done on an ad hoc basis (and most often is) or codified (as in my game). It all depends on how you want to run your game.

Here are a few examples.

Mac almost always adds the level to attribute checks. Its easy, swift, simple and panders to his style of play. It works. I can not think of an instance where I did not add my characters level to an attribute check (excepting when trying specific class based skills such as tracking).

Steve uses an ad hoc ruling. For example, our party snagged a boat but only two characters had a background in sailing so, when it came to doing specific ship oriented stuff we got to add our level while the remainder of the party did not.

Mine is perhaps the most detailed (and problematic) because I use a generalized skill system so that characters only add their level if it falls within their skill set. I actually have a three tiered skill system. No skill, static skill, active skill. Level is only applied to the active skill. However, I am broad in interpreting how skills can be applied and they tend to be broad.

So, in sum, adding the level to attribute checks (outside of necessity) needs to reflect the game you play. It works in any direction as long as it is consistent.

As advise, if you are running a high fantasy game - always apply it (or almost always). If you are running a gritty fantasy - restrict its application (things should be more difficult). With a mixture, add it to propel the story line.

More updates and clarificationis as questions and comments arise.

Davis

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Post by PeelSeel2 »

It's a good system. Cuts down on the B**S*** rules. I personally use the ad-hoc.

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Post by Omote »

A very nice description, and good examples. Maybe this very topic, and this explanation should appear in an issue of the Crusader.

...........................................Omote

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Post by ConnallMac »

Omote wrote:
A very nice description, and good examples. Maybe this very topic, and this explanation should appear in an issue of the Crusader.

...........................................Omote

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Perhaps develop it even further with contributions from each of the three CK's about how they use it.

J. Haney

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Post by serleran »

Actually, this should go into the CKG, under the "Adjudicating: or Running the Game" with some direct examples, of say, checks which are not assigned to a class, and are not skills per se, such as lifting weights. Also, needing of clarification is how, exactly, the racial abilities that duplicate class abilities is done, especially if the character is not the class; for example, a halfling fighter-- can they hide with level added, or do they not get level, because they're not rogues?

Explaining it from a "theme-based" gaming style will really help get the "its up to you" concept understood.

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Post by Rhuvein »

ConnallMac wrote:
Perhaps develop it even further with contributions from each of the three CK's about how they use it.

J. Haney

Indeed, murky sometimes. I guess I've been using the ad-hoc method, but I like the idea of contributions from each of the Troll CKs and if developed further might be a good idea for the CKG, as Serleran mentioned!
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Post by Omote »

serleran wrote:
Actually, this should go into the CKG, under the "Adjudicating: or Running the Game" with some direct examples, of say, checks which are not assigned to a class, and are not skills per se, such as lifting weights.

Indeed. A short version could also go in the Crusader, but I would imagine that this would best fit into the CKG.

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Post by Ghul »

I use the method Steve uses. Characters in my campaign have a small amount of skills related to what they were doing before they were an adventurer.

One guy was a logger/woodworker

One guy bowyer/flether

One guy attended a magic school

And so on.

When cases arise that relate to one of these background skills, I allow the character to make a check. Sometimes I don't even require it. For example, in last night's game the logger was looking for a dead-standing tree in a forest to cut down and chop into firewood. All I did was tell him how long it took -- no check required.

So I take it case by case.

Bowyer wants to make a bow? I''ll hve him make a check. Someone else who's never done it before? I'll tell them you don't know how, no roll required, because you just can't do it, you're clueless.

--Ghul

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Post by serleran »

See, I'm the ad-hoc guy, using what I call "assumed abilities," based on race, class, age, and what I know of your background, which should be more than you do, especially if I'm the CK. Whenever someone tries something, I determine if they can, and either allow a roll, or not, that depending on the nature of the attempt. Some classes have had new abilities given to them, like the ranger and druid both get Animal Handling, and all dwarves and fighters get the Smithing ability.

In my games, not every check gets level added, even for abilities the character has -- for example:

A monk character wanted to run across a clothesline (this during the playtest of the game, as I've not CKd since C&Cs inception), from one building to another, and, me, liking the HKAT (Hong Kong Action Theatre) aspect of this, decided it was possible, if not extremely hard. I had the character roll a Dexterity check, without level added (if the wire had been a little thicker, no check would have been needed), to pull it off. The roll failed, and the character fell, but managed to catch another clothesline (they were made of coiled wire, and it did not snap). Of course, level could have been added, but I figured, in this case, I decided to not allow it.

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Post by Philotomy Jurament »

Anyone using Gary's system from CZ1? The whole secondary/background skill bundle concept sounds pretty similar to what he describes, there, but I don't think you add the level under the CZ1 system.

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Post by Ghul »

Quote:
A monk character wanted to run across a clothesline (this during the playtest of the game, as I've not CKd since C&Cs inception), from one building to another, and, me, liking the HKAT (Hong Kong Action Theatre) aspect of this, decided it was possible, if not extremely hard. I had the character roll a Dexterity check, without level added (if the wire had been a little thicker, no check would have been needed), to pull it off. The roll failed, and the character fell, but managed to catch another clothesline (they were made of coiled wire, and it did not snap). Of course, level could have been added, but I figured, in this case, I decided to not allow it.

In this example I would allow the monk to roll a dex check and add his level. I would then assign an appropriate Challenge Class to add to the base (of either 12 or 18). I would assign the challenge class based on a few factors -- how tensile the wire was, the distance trying to be achieved, etc. I'd range it probably anywhere from 2 - 10, and possibly requiring more than one check if the line being traversed were long enough.

--Ghul

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Post by Ghul »

Quote:
Anyone using Gary's system from CZ1? The whole secondary/background skill bundle concept sounds pretty similar to what he describes, there, but I don't think you add the level under the CZ1 system.

Yes, but I don't agree with the concept of not adding levels. If your character is going to spend 3k to 8k to gain a secondary skill, I believe that checks (when called for) should include level. Granted you are usually getting a +2 per check, per level of the skill, but for the cost, I believe there should be a bonus for level.

--Ghul

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Post by Maliki »

Omote wrote:
A very nice description, and good examples. Maybe this very topic, and this explanation should appear in an issue of the Crusader.

...........................................Omote

FPQ

I agree, its nice to see how the trolls do things, and it shows that the system works no matter how you use it.

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Post by Kayolan »

serleran wrote:
Tue May 09, 2006 5:22 pm
Also, needing of clarification is how, exactly, the racial abilities that duplicate class abilities is done, especially if the character is not the class; for example, a halfling fighter-- can they hide with level added, or do they not get level, because they're not rogues?
I've wondered about this myself, and I'm inclined to add class level to the check for racial abilities. Has this ever been clarified anywhere?

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Grandpa »

I only add levels for class abilities, saving throws and any that the rules say to. I don't see how being a 10th level wizard gives one a level bonus to fixing a wagon wheel

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Kayolan »

Grandpa wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 3:52 pm
I only add levels for class abilities, saving throws and any that the rules say to. I don't see how being a 10th level wizard gives one a level bonus to fixing a wagon wheel
I agree with that but what about something like an elf's move silently ability? Should the elf get better at this over time regardless of class, as in say, an elf fighter?

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Captain_K »

Race and class abilities are abilities that come to you from birth and early training.... you use them, you get better at them add level.
Any secondary skills or background story that is NOT part of your class or racial heritage, you are not class/race level focused on these getting better so they stay at base levels. Same is true for everyone trying to move quietly only a thief or some races actually can move silently... everyone else makes some level of detectable noise.
Race abilities could simply be at half your level... which lets the class outshine the race... nurture wins over nature? Just a thought... its like a song stuck in my head now... hey who dug up this gem...
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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Grandpa »

Kayolan wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:45 pm
Grandpa wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 3:52 pm
I only add levels for class abilities, saving throws and any that the rules say to. I don't see how being a 10th level wizard gives one a level bonus to fixing a wagon wheel
I agree with that but what about something like an elf's move silently ability? Should the elf get better at this over time regardless of class, as in say, an elf fighter?
In "D&D" Racial abilities aren't dependent nor coupled to PC class. Unclassed characters of that race have the ability and those racial abilities don't scale with level unless stated in race description in the PHB. Has been that way since at least AD&D. E.g. "Gnomes receive a +1 bonus to hit
kobolds and goblins using hand held weapons in melee combat." This bonus doesn't increase with level. Also, "Gnomes receive a +3 bonus to
all listening checks." This also doesn't scale. In short, racial abilities don't increase with level.

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Kayolan »

You both make good points. I'm just trying to figure out how a 10th level elf fighter who has been adventuring in the woods for most of his career would not be better at moving silently in that wilderness than a 1st level elf fighter. I assume that the racial abilities are being practiced over time and thus can improve over time the same way class abilities do, maybe that's where I err in my thinking.

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Grandpa »

Kayolan wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:21 am
You both make good points. I'm just trying to figure out how a 10th level elf fighter who has been adventuring in the woods for most of his career would not be better at moving silently in that wilderness than a 1st level elf fighter.
The same way a 900 year old elf (no class level) who has been hunting game in the woods most of his life has the same move silent bonus as a 150 year old elf has . Which IS the case in the game rules.

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by serleran »

(Un)Fortunately, C&C leaves a few things unexplained so the Castle Keeper can decide for themselves how it works.

I personally allow all gained abilities whether race or class (or purchased during training) to gain level adjustment as I find this simpler. It does not make it "right."

I have considered a "level limit" concept so that all non-class abilities are restricted to 6th level maximum effectiveness, perhaps gaining +1 / 2 levels but I try to remove any abacus mechanisms when I can.

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Captain_K »

I see logic and game issues to anything we do, nothing is perfect... anyone can try to move quietly, but we should not rob from the thief moving utterly silently.. just like the fighter cannot fly by flapping his arms no matter what roll he makes... takes magic to fly... so I like letting the race listen with a +3, but listening or hear noise is a class ability... so some things can be heard by all, gnomes are better at that by 15%!... but only the thief can hear the cat walk through a wooden door.... so its all relative....

Sounds like race vs class is up to your vision of which is superior... and yes time and age without level... well that is a non-classed professional who gains skills and abilities in his non-classes professional world... like a hunter... very good at that, possibly better than a ranger.... just a thought...
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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Grandpa »

serleran wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:49 pm

I personally allow all gained abilities whether race or class (or purchased during training) to gain level adjustment as I find this simpler. It does not make it "right."
I guess it would be nice for my 10th level Dwarven fighter to have +10 to hit Orcs/Goblins, a +14 AC bonus vs. giants & ogres, a +13 saving throw bonus vs. arcane magic, +12 vs. fear, +12 vs. poison, an auto check with +12 to sense unsafe stone work and +14 appraising stone and metal work.

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by serleran »

[quote=Grandpa post_id=258921 time=1600198081 user_id=5364]
[quote=serleran post_id=258914 time=1600109384 user_id=1433]

I personally allow all gained abilities whether race or class (or purchased during training) to gain level adjustment as I find this simpler. It does not make it "right."

[/quote]

I guess it would be nice for my 10th level Dwarven fighter to have +10 to hit Orcs/Goblins, a +14 AC bonus vs. giants & ogres, a +13 saving throw bonus vs. arcane magic, +12 vs. fear, +12 vs. poison, an auto check with +12 to sense unsafe stone work and +14 appraising stone and metal work.
[/quote]

Sure, if that's how you choose to read the rules. I am not that stupid.

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Grandpa »

serleran wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:25 pm

Sure, if that's how you choose to read the rules. I am not that stupid.
serleran wrote:I personally allow all gained abilities whether race or class (or purchased during training) to gain level adjustment as I find this simpler. It does not make it "right."
M'kay now I'm really confused as to how you play it as a GM

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Kayolan »

Grandpa, I don't think anyone was suggesting adding levels to bonuses, but adding levels to abilities, like moving silently, hearing, etc. Not bonuses to saves or attack rolls.

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Grandpa »

Kayolan wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:50 pm
Grandpa, I don't think anyone was suggesting adding levels to bonuses, but adding levels to abilities, like moving silently, hearing, etc. Not bonuses to saves or attack rolls.
Reread what was written. There was NO distinction made.

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Re: The Murky Land of Attributes and Levels

Post by Kayolan »

Grandpa wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:21 am
Kayolan wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:50 pm
Grandpa, I don't think anyone was suggesting adding levels to bonuses, but adding levels to abilities, like moving silently, hearing, etc. Not bonuses to saves or attack rolls.
Reread what was written. There was NO distinction made.
Ah, well that explains the source of confusion then.

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