Is improving characteristics too cheap?

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Is improving characteristics too cheap?

Post by Nukenin » Tue Sep 02, 2014 7:30 pm

We just played our first adventure and the players accumulated some experience to spend.

Now some are wondering if the improvement of characteristics ain' t to cheap compared to improving single skills or specialisations.

Are Gimmikus really worth specialising for when improving characteristics seem to offer much more bang for the buck?

Let' s say I have 12 experience points to spend. I could improve Dexterity from 2 to 3, or I could improve maybe Firearms from 5 to 6. Or I could improve Handguns from say 5 to 6 or maybe 7 if I had 13 experience points. That is an exploding d6 compared to a fixed increase of 1 or 2 Points. Yeah, you could still roll a 4 but well, the result will most probably be better than a 1 or 2 anyway, or at least similar.

Did we miss something?

Is this intended?

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Re: Is improving characteristics too cheap?

Post by Corone » Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:01 am

I think for Kuro characters the cost is reasonable,
considering they are much less powerful than most beginning characters in other games.
Having 2 in a stat isn't very much so an easier skip up to 3 when they begin getting involved in serious adventures seems fair.
Until then they haven't been really tested so its a steep learning curve for the poor characters!
If Handguns is at 5-6 you're already pretty competent so you'd expect that to take a while.
To a certain degree, you are comparing low characteristics to average skills so there will be a different balence.

Having said that, if you think your PCs are getting too experienced too quickly, feel free to nudge up the costs.
Adding another point to the characteristic multiplier would be fine.
To a certain degree Kuro is like Cthuluhu in that you're not really looking to improve characters so much as survive the adventures :)
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Re: Is improving characteristics too cheap?

Post by Nukenin » Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:29 am

That seems plausible, actually. Never thought about it that way.

Thanks Corone :)

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Re: Is improving characteristics too cheap?

Post by Jay_NOLA » Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:49 pm

Kuro starting characters are ordinary everyday people who find them selves in an extraordinary circumstances. They are not"professional adventures" which are common to other RPGs.

Most characters are not going to be knowledgeable about occult matters, have good combat skills, and other skills that they would have no reason to possess in a normal world which they may wish they had at the start.

Many characters will have characteristics that are too low for the latter part of the campaign. Which I suspect is why it is easier and preferable to improve them with experience during the beginning parts of the campaign.

A characteristic of 1 is considered to be weak and a 2 is average. Many characters will have lots of 1 and only one at a 3.

As the main campaign progress the change and become heroic characters that are able to extraordinary things, but they are still just humans. (Well, I won't talk about Tensei and how that changes things, but keep the human frame in mind.)

I'm going to break the evolution up in to 3 distinct stages to help illustrate this.

Kuro Stage - Character are everyday individuals and aren't equipped to deal with paranormal stuff. It is best to run away from supernatural threats and not get into direct confrontations with supernatural enemies. Most enemies will be humans. Characteristics tend to be around 1 & 2. Skills will be at most around 5 or 6. (Note: that the Fugu adventure that is in the English version of Makkura is part of this stage.)

Makkura Stage - Characters know the supernatural exists and can deal with some paranormal threats during the latter part of this stage, but it is tough for them to do so and it often requires a good bit of investigative work and preparation. Often they need to get help on how to handle certain things. Most Characteristics at 1 will move to a 2 heavily used ones will be at a 3. Primarily used Skills start to get to values at around 12-15 during the latter parts and the players will be learning skills that they didn't have which they didn't have to deal with the various challenges.

During the Kuro stage and early Makkura stages it is a good idea to spend experience to get rid of any Characteristics at a 1 and to get one or two heavily used ones to a 3. Start using the rest of your experience to focus on skill that you are using heavily or don't have that you are starting to see used often.

Enemies usually have Characteristics in the 2-4 range and some have high skills.

Tensei Stage - Characters are actively fighting supernatural threats and have special mystical abilities. Characteristics tend to be around 2-4. Most will have a 3 or 4 in Characteristics they use often. Skills with values of 16 & up are common for heavily used skills.

The tone changes from, "we have to survive and figure things out", to "lets go beat up some yokai".

The players also start to spend experience on improving skills connected to the new mystical abilities they have and start also spending points on skills that fit the historical or mythic/ historic figure they are linked to.

So a "Duelist" character will want a high Niten-ryu and Kenjutsu skills to best use his special abilities while a "Miko" character may want to to have a high Shamanism, Herbalism and Feng Shui instead.

If you are wondering what those non mystical skills I mentioned do this will help.

Combat Skills
Kenjutsu: Swordsmanship with a katana or wakisashi
Niten-ryu: Use two swords in combat

Natural Sciences
Herbalism: Using plants to heal.

Feng Shui : Harmonizing a space, a place to facilitate Ki energy.
Shamanism: Connect with nature in meditation, animistic rituals.

Plus don't forget that they have very special mystical skills that have certain rules an are restricted to certain "types" of characters. "Duelist" & "Miko" are two of those "types".

Players also like having higher skill levels in new mystical Skills because of the new Gimmiku that they can get for them which Tensei introduces, and will spend experience on the new mystical abilities they can learn as using this Skill can be the best way to deal with a supernatural enemy, counter a power, take advantage of the spiritual environment of an area, etc. (That new Gimmiku is only available for the new mystical skills. I'm using the term mystical skills to refer to those skills too even though Tensei call them something else.)

Be also aware that non of these "types" are better than another and they are meant to work in a team setting in which the character is filling a specific part of balanced group. One "type" is not better than another.

Think of the fighter vs magic user vs cleric debates that come up in most fantasy RPGs. All are valued members of a party and you will need a balanced group to best handle things. (This came up in some French discussions and the designers had to explained the balanced team concept and one isn't better than an other.)

Most enemies have Characteristics that are at a 4 or higher, with one tending to be in the 7 to 9 range, & often have a primary skill at 20 or more. The newer yokai are far more dangerous than the ones in the Kuro basic book.

You also don't want to be having to rely on exploding d6 rolls of Characteristics at latter points in the main campaign and are going to need a high enough skill level and Gimmiku's to help with that.

If your enemy is going to have at least 20 or more points to his dice total thanks to skills before he rolls you want the be able to match or beat that instead of having to rely on the luck of the dice a Characteristic to even attempt to get close to a 20.

Also, remember humans can develop at most a 6 in a Characteristic and if you neglect your Skills even with a Characteristic at 6 you are going to be in trouble as your enemy will shift tactics to take advantage of lower Characteristics and Skill you posses.

Boost & Mastery tend to be the popular ones players chose.

Also, remember that no specific Characteristic is linked to a Skill or Specialization, the Characteristic used with a Skill varies based on the situation.

So a player may find that having a Firearms of 6 with a Boost Gimmiku serves them better when they find they are needing to use the Skill with various Characteristics in a campaign instead of having to just use that Skill with one.

Try and vary up tactical situations so a player will not want to allays use one type of Skill with one Characteristics. Having situations where it may be necessary or advantageous to make another type of attack with a Skill which causes the Skill to be used with a different Characteristic helps encourage players wanting to improve Skills over Characteristics.

Also, I'm not sure if the designers intended this with the design of Kuro but heroic characters in Japanese fiction tend to not be like Western heroic ones. Most Japanese heroic fictional characters tend to be heavily flawed ordinary individuals who through hard work rise up to become extraordinary individuals.

Rising up from and becoming great is more heroic than having a character who is midway competent or highly trained than one who in a Japanese perspective.

Kuro character while they are extraordinary in that they are "Potentials" will become the the yokai fighting heroes of Tenesei with out a lot of hard work during the campaign.

On the French forums I saw a couple of discussion on human skills and this was posted by one fan to help gauge Skill levels.

novices to 0-4 (no gimmikku)
practicing 5-10
confirmed 11-16
expert 17-22
Master 23-29

The author of that table also said to keep in mind that the campaign is a long hard difficult one but is is till being done by humans until Tensei.

Hope all that helps.

Quick edit to fix some typos and some text that got treadle when I posted the above. Plus some more on this as I was thinking this over and look at some things.

Not all enemies will be yokai and humans often do have very high skill levels.

The GM can impose a cap limit at certain points if players are trying to get all of their Characteristics too high during various parts of the campaign.

Saving up to make improvements is another good thing to encourage for some players as a Skill or Characteristic used heavily in one or two adventures may not be the best investment if it isn't used much in latter adventures.

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