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Subject: Design Question: Common, Shared and Unique Skills rss

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Grace McDermott
Australia
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I'll try and TLDR this as much as possible.

So in Phase 1 and Phase 3 of the player turns in the game I'm currently designing, players can choose from a number of actions. In the current design doc, I've classified them as:
*Common - all characters get these actions
*Shared - characters of the same...we'll say class for ease of conversation
*Unique - only this character has this action

Common and Unique are, by their nature, pretty easy to deal with. It's the shared ones that are causing some discussion.

In the current mock up of the character sheets (I've got two characters for each class so far), some of the actions I've listed as Shared have been duplicated for each member of the class, others are listed as shared, but not duplicated.

I basically have two options:
The first is to have, for example, 1 common action, 2 standard class actions, 1 unique action, so that all members of the same class have the same abilities, except for the character-specific, unique action.

The second, and the one I'm leaning towards, is to have a pool of Shared actions for each class, which I can use when designing further characters for that class, so that while there's a consistent feel to playing that class, playing each character has a different strategy that isn't entirely dependent on the unique power.

The second option feels like it would add more replayability to the game, so that players can work on a scenario/mission they may have played before, but use a different set of characters, leading to different decisions/strategies, etc - beyond the randomness presented by drawn cards/dice rolls/etc.
 
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Michael Berg
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Medford
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I think it is really important to keep characters feeling unique and not just iterations on the available options.

If the class skill pool is big enough, you can give them a couple of those skills and still have unique feeling characters. But as the pool grows the class loses cohesion. A narrow skill pool prevents the characters from feeling unique.

I think your best option is to have a unique skill for each character. You can still call that unique skill a class skill, though, and keep your options open for future characters.
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Kristian Järventaus
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I would like to know, what else is "class" for?

Is the only difference between classes these shared skills, or do you have other rules and systems (like equipment etc.) that depend on it?

If class is not used, or can be reduced, you could just have the "shared skill pool" and use *that* as a 'class' instead.

So instead of having Archers with the Marksman or Cover Fire skills, you'd instead have characters that are just Marksmen or have the Cover Fire skill.

Or you might opt for subclasses. Archer: Marksman, Archer: Supporter.
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Jeff Warrender
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I like the second option, as long as the set of actions shared by a given class feel more similar to each other than they do to any of the actions of the other classes. For example, if it's a dungeon crawl, it would be neat, as you say, to have different "thief" characters have a range of thieving skills like picking locks, walking silently, etc., and each time you play as a thief you get a different tableau of skills to work with.

In contrast, if the available actions are things like "draw X cards", "move Y spaces", "attack Z monsters", etc, and the only differences between fighters and thieves and clerics are the values of X, Y, and Z, then the differences between a thief and a fighter won't come through as clearly and it would be better to go with the first option to strengthen the differences between classes.
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Grace McDermott
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jwarrend wrote:
I like the second option, as long as the set of actions shared by a given class feel more similar to each other than they do to any of the actions of the other classes. For example, if it's a dungeon crawl, it would be neat, as you say, to have different "thief" characters have a range of thieving skills like picking locks, walking silently, etc., and each time you play as a thief you get a different tableau of skills to work with.
That's pretty much exactly it.

To use the thief example:
Potential shared skills: pick lock (a), walk silent (b), distract target (c).

Character 1 might have A&B, Character 2 might have B&C, Character 3 might have A&C, etc.
 
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Jeff Warrender
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That makes sense. The one thing to look out for (you've probably already thought of this) is to make sure that the core kernel of abilities necessary to make the game work is always in play in every game. For example, if players come to a locked door, and the thief doesn't have the pick-lock skill, the fighter doesn't have the brute-force skill, and the wizard doesn't have the force-pull skill, then the game locks up.
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Grace McDermott
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jwarrend wrote:
That makes sense. The one thing to look out for (you've probably already thought of this) is to make sure that the core kernel of abilities necessary to make the game work is always in play in every game. For example, if players come to a locked door, and the thief doesn't have the pick-lock skill, the fighter doesn't have the brute-force skill, and the wizard doesn't have the force-pull skill, then the game locks up.
I've been careful to ensure that you can always do *something* - you'll always be able to progress a goal, get yourself into a better position for the next round, or assist another player.
 
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