Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

Post by Troll Lord »

As you know we are coming out with a sixth printing and are taking a hard look at the Players Handbook.

We did have a long planning session last night which included both Mac Golden and Davis Chenault . . . rare these days to get us all together to discuss game design.

For awhile we have been running a attribute class check, its a concept that grew out of my frustration with the spot check being a wisdom check. The idea that a cleric/druid always have better chance, read better eye sight, than anyone else who doesn't have wisdom as a prime, to see things, has bugged the crap out of me for awhile. So to change this we started running the loosely called "class check" at the table. Basically you take your PRIME ATTRIBUTE and when you roll a class check, you roll against the PRIME. Fighter is strength, cleric is wisdom. I use this pretty selectively. If a fighter is trying to determine if an opponent is experienced or not, I'll have him roll a class check. If the wizard is trying to spot the magical text on the book shelf he makes a class check and so on.

This dove tailed into a more subtle change on the class attributes.

Presently a few of the classes, most notably the ranger, rogue, knight and assassin have abilities that they must make a check for with an attribute other than their PRIME ATTRIBUTE. For instance the prime attribute of a ranger is Strength. His survival roll is a wisdom check. The Knight, with a prime of charisma, has horsemanship, which is a dexterity check. There are, I think 17 of these attributes in all the classes. Most being in the ranger, rogue and assassin.

The proposed change is to make all abilities requiring an attribute check, be that classes PRIME ATTRIBUTE. So the ranger's survival skill will be a strength roll, the knights horsemen ship will be a charisma roll and so on.

This change appeals to me in many ways. It fixes the long standing complaints about the ranger not having any abilities that require a strength check. It, as Mac pointed out, GREATLY simplifies the game. It is also not a change that would necessitate doing away with your earlier printings of the book as it doesn't change any major mechanic, just what is rolled against.

My only concern would be making certain classes more powerful, notably the ranger. But truthfully, even though they have many abilities, they are largely role playing abilities.

I'm strongly leaning toward this change but would like to hear from you all.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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I like it!

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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It would be bizarre to think that spotting something is influenced by strength score. With Ranger & Paladin class in 1st Ed, the minimum ability scores were high BECAUSE of the divergent abilities of the classes. A Paladin Character with low Charisma & Wisdom would be, (I'll put it bluntly) stupid.

I would NOT use that rule if it were implemented.

For the oddball thing with "Spot". Disassociate it from Wisdom and attach it to level only. Don't throw out the Baby because the "Spot" bathwater is dirty.
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

Post by Rigon »

In Tree's games, he treats all class skills as being prime for that class. This allows for more success with class skills, but still makes saves and other checks still challenging. I myself like that there are different attributes associated with skills. It gives you vastly different types of characters, without changing anything mechanically, as a ranger with Wis prime is much different than a ranger with Dex prime.

Besides, I've already done away with class prime requirements at my table.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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As far as spot, search and similar checks I have added in a sub-ability called perception. Perception is the average of the Wisdom and Intelligence bonuses and is used for the basic 'spot checks'. Classes like the Rogue get a +2 to spot checks and races that would get bonuses such as enhances senses gain a +1 to perception. The bonus increases at +1 per every three levels of the character.

So far it has worked well and we have enjoyed the simplicity of the idea.
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Rigon wrote:I myself like that there are different attributes associated with skills. It gives you vastly different types of characters, without changing anything mechanically, as a ranger with Wis prime is much different than a ranger with Dex prime.

Besides, I've already done away with class prime requirements at my table.

R-

Completely agree with this. I always thought this was the whole point. To avoid cookie cutter, rogues/rangers/paladins etc . . . by forcing crucial decisions about which abilities are prime. If it is a class skill, the character will still get to add his level, so success is still possible.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Arduin wrote:It would be bizarre to think that spotting something is influenced by strength score. With Ranger & Paladin class in 1st Ed, the minimum ability scores were high BECAUSE of the divergent abilities of the classes. A Paladin Character with low Charisma & Wisdom would be, (I'll put it bluntly) stupid.

I would NOT use that rule if it were implemented.

For the oddball thing with "Spot". Disassociate it from Wisdom and attach it to level only. Don't throw out the Baby because the "Spot" bathwater is dirty.
Don't let my spot example cloud the concept. Its just what led into the discussion last night. For it in particular, 'spot' would not be a strength check, unless the fighter was specifically looking for something that is within the general abilities of his class . . . the warriors trade. If he were spotting in the woods for random stuff it would be and remains a normal wisdom check.

And the impact of the change would not be very great. The paladin for instance: only one ability requires an attribute check. That is turn undead. For him its a wisdom check. With the change it would become a charisma check. Everything else stays the same. That way is he automatically better at his class abilities. He would not have to take wisdom as a prime anymore, this would allow for greater variety of paladins. One could have a dwarf paladin who is strong (strength and charisma prime) without losing any of his class abilities.

The majority of classes would be utterly unaffected.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Rigon wrote:In Tree's games, he treats all class skills as being prime for that class. This allows for more success with class skills, but still makes saves and other checks still challenging. I myself like that there are different attributes associated with skills. It gives you vastly different types of characters, without changing anything mechanically, as a ranger with Wis prime is much different than a ranger with Dex prime.

Besides, I've already done away with class prime requirements at my table.

R-
That is certainly true. As is you have to spend your primes carefully.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Julian Grimm wrote:As far as spot, search and similar checks I have added in a sub-ability called perception. Perception is the average of the Wisdom and Intelligence bonuses and is used for the basic 'spot checks'. Classes like the Rogue get a +2 to spot checks and races that would get bonuses such as enhances senses gain a +1 to perception. The bonus increases at +1 per every three levels of the character.

So far it has worked well and we have enjoyed the simplicity of the idea.
We've thought of this, but this always seems to lead into ever more and more attributes and checks. If that makes sense?

That said spotting and listening are the single two most used rolls at my table. More so than combat. I look…I listen…can I see…what do I see…etc

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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dachda wrote:
Rigon wrote:I myself like that there are different attributes associated with skills. It gives you vastly different types of characters, without changing anything mechanically, as a ranger with Wis prime is much different than a ranger with Dex prime.

Besides, I've already done away with class prime requirements at my table.

R-

Completely agree with this. I always thought this was the whole point. To avoid cookie cutter, rogues/rangers/paladins etc . . . by forcing crucial decisions about which abilities are prime. If it is a class skill, the character will still get to add his level, so success is still possible.
Yeah, I agree on the diversification. But as Mac was pointing out it really doesn't exist for that many characters.

All these classes have their PRIME ATTRIBUTE for all their abilities or do not need attribute checks for their abilities: Fighter, Barbarian, Monk, Wizard, Illusionist, Cleric, Druid.

The Paladin has 1 ability affected
The Knight has 1 ability affected.
Bard has 3 abilities affected
Ranger has 6 affected
Rogue has 3 affected
Assassin has 4 affected.

And the ranger is just ramped up with no ability checks being a prime.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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As a little foreshadowing, this all dovetails nicely into the Adventurer's Backpack where we'll roll out a number of new sub-classes. The Archer, Pathfinder, Witch, etc. These will be variants. For instance the Pathfinder will be a ranger class with dexterity as a prime, or wisdom, I can't remember.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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At first read, I was like um no that doesn't make any sense. But after some thought it could. Using the rogue's decipher script as an example.

The rogue might have low intelligence, no good at redding and maff. Even with this low intelligence he was able to figure out how to decipher scripts. Just cause a person is unintelligence doesn't mean they can't be exceptionally good at something. I'm assuming although the check would now be dexterity, it's really not dexterity being checked. It's how good of a rogue the rogue is.
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Peter wrote:At first read, I was like um no that doesn't make any sense. But after some thought it could. Using the rogue's decipher script as an example.

The rogue might have low intelligence, no good at redding and maff. Even with this low intelligence he was able to figure out how to decipher scripts. Just cause a person is unintelligence doesn't mean they can't be exceptionally good at something. I'm assuming although the check would now be dexterity, it's really not dexterity being checked. It's how good of a rogue the rogue is.
Correct. That's a good way to put it as well.

Like you it took me a while to come around to this, Mac too for that matter. When we first put the rules together I was all for it, but then grew cautious about the rogue and ranger being over power with so many abilities (I still carry AD&D scars about the halfelven ranger with his multiple abilities and many hit points), but after years of playing I see it actually has little affect on the mechanics of the game…combat and what not, more the role playing.

With this change it concentrates the abilities into the attribute, strengthens the class and lets those who benefit be like the rest of the classes. They can spread their wings and fly hahaahah

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Troll Lord wrote:
Don't let my spot example cloud the concept. Its just what led into the discussion last night. For it in particular, 'spot' would not be a strength check, unless the fighter was specifically looking for something that is within the general abilities of his class .
To have Spot EVER be reliant on Strength is dumb. Sorry, it is a fact.

You'll also need to up the XP tables for those high powered classes that would will be getting a boost on their Class abilities for free.
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Only issue I can see is for DMs who allow class abilities to be used by players who are not that class with an ability check. If the ability it is tied to is no longer there they would have to use their best guess. Any text refering to this would have to be changed.
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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To have Spot EVER be reliant on Strength is dumb. Sorry, it is a fact.
Spot doesn't really fit any of the 6 attributes. :P
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Arduin wrote:
Troll Lord wrote:
Don't let my spot example cloud the concept. Its just what led into the discussion last night. For it in particular, 'spot' would not be a strength check, unless the fighter was specifically looking for something that is within the general abilities of his class .
To have Spot EVER be reliant on Strength is dumb. Sorry, it is a fact.

You'll also need to up the XP tables for those high powered classes that would will be getting a boost on their Class abilities for free.
Hey I'm going to move this to another thread, as I would like to get the communities thoughts. This is the single most irritating thing at my table.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Peter wrote:
To have Spot EVER be reliant on Strength is dumb. Sorry, it is a fact.
Spot doesn't really fit any of the 6 attributes. :P
Correct. Which is why it is best to simply tie it to level and nothing else. Saying that someone who can't lift 200 .lbs is worse at spotting than someone who can press 300 .lbs is, um, dumb.
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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I think I'm with Treebore's line of thinking: if it's a class skill, it gets treated as if the attribute was a prime, whether that character has it as prime or not. While it's not functionally very different from what you were initially proposing, from a "Will this make sense to a new player or CK?" standpoint there's a world of difference.
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Arduin wrote:
Peter wrote:
To have Spot EVER be reliant on Strength is dumb. Sorry, it is a fact.
Spot doesn't really fit any of the 6 attributes. :P
Correct. Which is why it is best to simply tie it to level and nothing else. Saying that someone who can't lift 200 .lbs is worse at spotting than someone who can press 300 .lbs is, um, dumb.
Well I don't consider myself that dumb. But I think you are completely missing the point. It has nothing whatsoever to do with his physical strength. Check out my other thread, just posted.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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CKDad wrote:I think I'm with Treebore's line of thinking: if it's a class skill, it gets treated as if the attribute was a prime, whether that character has it as prime or not. While it's not functionally very different from what you were initially proposing, from a "Will this make sense to a new player or CK?" standpoint there's a world of difference.
Agreed.

That was a major point Mac was pushing last night. That new players will slip into the class/checks much easier.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Troll Lord wrote:
CKDad wrote:I think I'm with Treebore's line of thinking: if it's a class skill, it gets treated as if the attribute was a prime, whether that character has it as prime or not. While it's not functionally very different from what you were initially proposing, from a "Will this make sense to a new player or CK?" standpoint there's a world of difference.
Agreed.

That was a major point Mac was pushing last night. That new players will slip into the class/checks much easier.

Steve
It looks like you kind of unofficially already made a decision, but I just want to add my two cents. The sanctioned freedom to treat all of a PC's class abilities/skill as prime would be very appreciated.
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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I think this whole discussion has it backwards. You're trying to fit abilities to the class Prime. It should be the other way around- the class Primes should be determined by the class skills.

For example, the ranger should not have Strength as a required prime. Don't make his Survival skill dependent on Strength. Rather, don't force the ranger to have Strength prime. Let him take whatever primes the player wants to make the character concept.

I hate the notion of treating all class abilities as prime. That makes every member of one class the same as any other member of the same class. That's boring. I like that rangers have to choose Dexterity or Wisdom: that's two different types of characters in one (stealthy hunter vs wise guru). Why must a class be awesome at everything? It smells of munchkinism.

The changes suggested here limit the power of primes- if all class skills are treated the same, then they're borderline meaningless. In this scenario, your character is rarely going to attempt anything that doesn't use a prime. Primes would only come up in rare instances. So why even bother with primes at all?

As a whole, i think primes and class abilities should be entirely decoupled. Let any class take any prime they want. That allows the most flexibility in character types.

That's why the prime system is so elegant: a simple mechanic that can be used to reflect entirely different character concepts even within the same class. Don't shy away from it- embrace it!


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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Fizz wrote:I think this whole discussion has it backwards. You're trying to fit abilities to the class Prime. It should be the other way around- the class Primes should be determined by the class skills.

For example, the ranger should not have Strength as a required prime. Don't make his Survival skill dependent on Strength. Rather, don't force the ranger to have Strength prime. Let him take whatever primes the player wants to make the character concept.

-Fizz
THIS, is much more elegant solution.

Character example: I want to make an Elf Fighter that relies on agility & intelligence (an archetype for sure) I choose Dex & Int as my primes.

Requiring a certain prime slot be taken because of class narrows choices in creating a character.
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Troll Lord wrote:
CKDad wrote:I think I'm with Treebore's line of thinking: if it's a class skill, it gets treated as if the attribute was a prime, whether that character has it as prime or not. While it's not functionally very different from what you were initially proposing, from a "Will this make sense to a new player or CK?" standpoint there's a world of difference.
Agreed.

That was a major point Mac was pushing last night. That new players will slip into the class/checks much easier.

Steve
Maybe it's me, but I don't think it's that hard as a newbie to grasp the SIEGE engine. On the other hand, there are lots of threads started by confused players, so maybe I'm just wrong on that. Anyway, I don't think there is a problem with some classes having abilities tied to non-prime attributes. That draws a big, resounding "so what?" from my subconscious. I think the only real problem is the spot check issue you moved to the other thread. Spot checks being tied to wisdom is an awkward set-up, but I've decided to just go with it since life is too short to worry about everything.
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

Post by Treebore »

I went with treating class skills/abilities as Prime, whether or not that attribute is, simply because it makes the classes more ICONIC. Meaning more in line with how they are represented in 1E AD&D. IE they are very good at what they do, and not so good at everything else.
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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Steve, I think a you are on the right track; however, rather than make class abilities based on their Prime, simply make class abilities and prime attribute checks a Challenge Base of 12 (or +6, which ever you prefer). That way you will always excel at what your class is supposed to, but there is still room for differences based on the attribute bonuses the character may have. You could also grant a small, +1 or +2, bonus if the class skill attribute requirement is also prime, though this could be a bit much and would need testing.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

Post by Rigon »

Fizz wrote:I think this whole discussion has it backwards. You're trying to fit abilities to the class Prime. It should be the other way around- the class Primes should be determined by the class skills.

For example, the ranger should not have Strength as a required prime. Don't make his Survival skill dependent on Strength. Rather, don't force the ranger to have Strength prime. Let him take whatever primes the player wants to make the character concept.

I hate the notion of treating all class abilities as prime. That makes every member of one class the same as any other member of the same class. That's boring. I like that rangers have to choose Dexterity or Wisdom: that's two different types of characters in one (stealthy hunter vs wise guru). Why must a class be awesome at everything? It smells of munchkinism.

The changes suggested here limit the power of primes- if all class skills are treated the same, then they're borderline meaningless. In this scenario, your character is rarely going to attempt anything that doesn't use a prime. Primes would only come up in rare instances. So why even bother with primes at all?

As a whole, i think primes and class abilities should be entirely decoupled. Let any class take any prime they want. That allows the most flexibility in character types.

That's why the prime system is so elegant: a simple mechanic that can be used to reflect entirely different character concepts even within the same class. Don't shy away from it- embrace it!


-Fizz
That's exactly what I think. And why I removed class required primes.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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jdizzy001 wrote:
Troll Lord wrote:
CKDad wrote:I think I'm with Treebore's line of thinking: if it's a class skill, it gets treated as if the attribute was a prime, whether that character has it as prime or not. While it's not functionally very different from what you were initially proposing, from a "Will this make sense to a new player or CK?" standpoint there's a world of difference.
Agreed.

That was a major point Mac was pushing last night. That new players will slip into the class/checks much easier.

Steve
It looks like you kind of unofficially already made a decision, but I just want to add my two cents. The sanctioned freedom to treat all of a PC's class abilities/skill as prime would be very appreciated.
Thank you and not yet concerning the decision. Davis and Mac are there, but honestly my primary concern is with the reaction of the fans, for a game that promises no new editions, I'm as much curious to see how people would respond. I with to hell I could find the old Dragon article within which Gary wrote about AD&D. In it he spoke of no new editions to the game, constant improvements with each printings, fine tunings, but the game, at its core would stay the same.

I feel we managed that with the changes from the 3rd to the 4th printing. We strengthened the barbarian and made the illusionist more unique without altering the Siege Engine. These changes, in my opinion, would be the same. The Siege Engine doesn't change at all, only the attributes required for 17 different character abilities.

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Re: Class Abilities and the Prime Attribute

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Fizz wrote:I think this whole discussion has it backwards. You're trying to fit abilities to the class Prime. It should be the other way around- the class Primes should be determined by the class skills.

For example, the ranger should not have Strength as a required prime. Don't make his Survival skill dependent on Strength. Rather, don't force the ranger to have Strength prime. Let him take whatever primes the player wants to make the character concept.

I hate the notion of treating all class abilities as prime. That makes every member of one class the same as any other member of the same class. That's boring. I like that rangers have to choose Dexterity or Wisdom: that's two different types of characters in one (stealthy hunter vs wise guru). Why must a class be awesome at everything? It smells of munchkinism.
This is a long standing discussion around here, from about 2004. The Ranger in the PH is not a hunter type, he is more like a Commanche warrior, an Apache, an Army Ranger, Aragorn . . . warriors who have abilities to survive off the land. Our current plan is to deliver this ranger in the Pathfinder class in the Adventurer's Backpack (tentatively scheduled for Gencon) . . . but that is WAY off topic here. :lol:
Fizz wrote: The changes suggested here limit the power of primes- if all class skills are treated the same, then they're borderline meaningless. In this scenario, your character is rarely going to attempt anything that doesn't use a prime. Primes would only come up in rare instances. So why even bother with primes at all?
Not following your logic here, but won't argue the point. The majority of all class abilities don't even require a check. This in no way should limit anyone from attempting to do anything they want, prime or not.
Fizz wrote:As a whole, i think primes and class abilities should be entirely decoupled. Let any class take any prime they want. That allows the most flexibility in character types.

That's why the prime system is so elegant: a simple mechanic that can be used to reflect entirely different character concepts even within the same class. Don't shy away from it- embrace it!

-Fizz
That certainly would. But in that case you should just decouple the abilities from the class and allow free choice of all the abilities. A paladin who can track, turn undead and has horsemanship, but that leads down further roads of skill based, not class based RPGs.

Further, decoupling the class/prime erases the archetype upon which the character classes themselves are built.

Steve
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