Skills & Powers: Anything useful?

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Havard
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Skills & Powers: Anything useful?

Post by Havard »

I was not terribly excited with Skills & Powers when it came out. It just seemed like too much, as well as revising rules that we were happy with. But maybe there were things I overlooked? Anyone have good experience with this book? What, if anything, from this book would you use in a 2nd Ed game today?

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Re: Skills & Powers: Anything useful?

Post by RobJN »

Havard wrote:I was not terribly excited with Skills & Powers when it came out. It just seemed like too much, as well as revising rules that we were happy with. But maybe there were things I overlooked? Anyone have good experience with this book? What, if anything, from this book would you use in a 2nd Ed game today?

-Havard
The crew at the THACO's Hammer podcast covered this book in episode 95 (Oct 2014). I know I listened to it, but nothing sticks in my head about that particular episode....
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AuldDragon
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Re: Skills & Powers: Anything useful?

Post by AuldDragon »

Well, it depends on what you want in your game. There are people who do like the new options. Some people favor the Character Point system, not for allowing players to customize their characters, but for DMs to offer custom classes/kits and specialty priests that they feel are balanced to the existing classes. It offers most of the races from the Complete Book of Humanoids as character options, with the addition of githzerai, giff, and thri-kreen (the only place outside of Dark Sun material that has them playable, and balanced for standard AD&D). It revamps a lot of the kits from the Complete Handbook series and makes them non-class specific (although some are still restricted to specific classes). I've never compared them to the originals to see what changed though. There are sections on weapon mastery which is a retread (pretread?) from Combat & Tactics; ditto for some of the new schools of magic and their associated specialist wizards. They revamped the proficiency system to use Character Points, so they start with lower scores and can be improved over time, which many people feel is more reasonable and organic rather than the buy it once and the score is fixed (with a rather expensive improvement method) that the standard game has. Finally, they completely revamped the Psionic system so it operates more like combat, using M(ental)THAC0 and M(ental)AC, as opposed to the skill/proficiency system that PHBR5 had. Unfortunately, in many respects, it does not operate as well; for example, the mental attack modes (ego whip, id insinuation, etc.) tend to cost the attacker more PSPs than the defender loses on a successful attack.

In general, if you don't plan to use character points, subabilities, or the new psionic system and you have the other books, there's not much here. There's certainly at least a few minor things that can easily be added to any game, though.

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Re: Skills & Powers: Anything useful?

Post by agathokles »

I think the character point system is more useful to create new character classes than as an actual player's option.
The revised skill system is ok, but not that much better than the original.
For Psionics, I'd rather fix the original system (see e.g. the Dark Sun CRPGs).

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Re: Skills & Powers: Anything useful?

Post by shesheyan »

I remember buying the PHB and being very happy with the layout, art and tables.
The point system was interesting but made character creation process longer.
My group didn't buy the PHB so I had to stay with the classic 2E AD&D... until 3E came out.

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Re: Skills & Powers: Anything useful?

Post by TBeholder »

AuldDragon wrote:Some people favor the Character Point system, not for allowing players to customize their characters, but for DMs to offer custom classes/kits and specialty priests that they feel are balanced to the existing classes. It offers most of the races from the Complete Book of Humanoids as character options, with the addition of githzerai, giff, and thri-kreen (the only place outside of Dark Sun material that has them playable, and balanced for standard AD&D).
And then there were articles in Dragon:
#217 - "The Game Wizards" (Preview) - Dale A. Donovan
#225 - "Skills & Powers In Eight Easy Stages" - Rateliff & Williams
#235 - "Planar Heroes" (PLANESCAPE) - Ed Bonny
#236 - "Heroes of Faith" (Specialty priests) - Brian Linville
#247 - "Heroes of Cerilia" (BIRTHRIGHT) - Ed Bonny
#256 - "Rogue Heroes" (Bards, Thieves) - Mark Hart
#257 - "Fighting With Flair" (Fighters) - Lance Hawvermale
#259 - "Designer Demesnes" (designing kingdoms) - Mark A. Hart
#264 - "Harrowed Heroes" (RAVENLOFT) - Ed Bonny
Annual#1 - "Heroes of Athas" (DARK SUN) - Slavicsek & Bonny
(per DragonDex)
agathokles wrote: For Psionics, I'd rather fix the original system (see e.g. the Dark Sun CRPGs).
Dark Sun 2 ended up using MTHAC. Unfortunately, even if you fix the obvious problem, the whole premise is turning telepathy into another "padded sumo" sub-game (as in, it's the battle of attrition between piles of hitpoints) plus otherwise needless and too generic mechanics of MTHAC/MAC.
Or do you mean extensive patches per "The Will and The Way"? Specifically for fixing telepathy, there's also e.g. tug-o-war style "Mind Wrestling" from Dragon #23, applicable with 2e rules just as well.

Anyway, AD&D2 psionics can be translated into PO character points system. Convert powers as if they were skills, then either keep pre-existing custom progression with level or use a separate CP pool and balance major/minor powers via cost.
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