Capping the Effect of Attributes

While generally I’m happy with FS3 3rd Edition, there’s one thing that’s been bugging me…

Attributes are overwhelming skills more than I’d like. An above-average attribute currently can give you, effectively, a +3 to your skill compared to someone with an average attribute and the same training. That feels like too much. Attributes should give an edge, sure, but I don’t think they should put someone with Competent skill on par with someone with an Extraordinary skill.

I’m considering changing attributes to be on a 1-4 scale instead of a 1-5 scale, limiting the skill boost to 2 levels instead of 3.

Another alternative would be to limit the boost that attributes give you based on your skill level. For example:

  • skill 1-3 = max 3 attr dice
  • skill 4-5 = max 4 attr dice
  • skill 6+ = max 5 attr dice

Nate the Newbie with Fair firearms (2) Exceptional reflexes (5) would only get 5 dice, not 7.
Sarah the Sniper with Extraordinary firearms (6), Exceptional reflexes (5) would get all 11 dice.

So your attribute still gives you a boost at lower levels, but not so much of one that it overshadows the fact that you don’t really know what you’re doing.


I’ve been pondering that idea myself for a while now myself. I think that it’s a very good idea to minimize the effect of Attributes. Something along the lines of what you’re suggesting is definitely the best way to go without massively overhauling the system (making it so that attributes don’t add dice, but only modify how much it costs to raise skills, or how long the cooldown for raising the skill takes, or something like that).

What about just adding 1/2 Attribute dice to the check? Round up, so Attribute 1-2 provides 1 die, Attribute 3-4 provides 2 dice, and Attribute 5 provides 3 dice. This -does- of course, have the problem that it makes Attribute levels 2 and 4 basically just pre-requisites… at which point, since you never roll just an Attribute in Ares anymore, means you might as well be just doing Attributes on a 1-3 scale.

Hrm… my problem is really that I -like- the definition that the 1-5 scale provides, but I agree with you that having 6 dice in -all- Reflexes-linked skills, even if you have no points in them, is pretty overpowered.

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Yeah I also considered the “half attribute round up” idea but dismissed it for exactly the reasons you describe – making people pay for half-steps is even more encouragement to min-max, and at that point you might as well just make the attributes 1-3.

I’m not dramatically opposed to 1-3 versus 1-4, but I think players will be a bit resistant to that. They really do like their characters to be not just trained but talented, and I do think it’s helpful to have a distinction between “yeah you’re fit” (brawn 3) and “you’re Tom Hardy in Warrior” (brawn 4).

As for the other ideas - skill cost, cooldown, etc - they’re all fine ideas in general for how to reflect attributes, but not the direction I want to go in. I like the basic idea that two people with equivalent training (i.e. the same skill level) perform differently based on talent (attributes). I just think the talent part is too overpowering in the current mechanic.

Yeah. I agree. Half attribute is neither elegant nor smooth. And I dislike useless pre-reqs myself. I agree with you and the players that 1-3 isn’t enough of a distinction for attributes: there’s a difference between Geoff-strong and Gustavo-strong.

Totally get that skill cost/cooldown isn’t what you’re going for… that’s why I didn’t really suggest them, just mentioned them as other ways I’d do things if it didn’t mean totally reworking the system.

So… if you want to have a 5-point Attribute range, but want Skills to have a much higher effect than Attributes… what about increasing the Skill range back to 10 or so, making a success a 7 instead of a six, and making a 5 the new ‘professional’ level for a skill… that’s a lot of change, and I haven’t done the math behind it. I don’t know if it’s a -good- idea, especially since Ares just got done dropping the skill range to 8, but it’s a way that you could keep the 5-point Attribute range while still making skills count more than Attributes.

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Oh, I’m fine reducing the attribute range to 4 instead of 5. That’s actually how it was in 2nd edition anyway. I was just leery of reducing it all the way to 3.

Pondering this some more… another idea came to mind similar to this.

Leave the skill ratings alone, as I like them descriptively. But make skills 5-8 add 2 dice instead of 1 per level. This would widen the gap between the experts (Great+) and non-experts (Everyman-Good), which has pros and cons. But it does then make skill matter more than talent without changing the core of the dice system.

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But make skills 5-8 add 2 dice instead of 1 per level.

I kind of like this. It might not be intuitive to new players anymore (because you’re not strictly adding # dice), but I kind of like the increased emphasis on skill at higher levels.

It does have the downside of emphasizing the complaints some players have with the system: namely that unless you build a powerful sheet at the start, you’re behind the curve. But since you don’t have a problem with that, it shouldn’t be a big deal… maybe you could have a ‘skill level’ entry, where you could note how many dice each skill level was? So if people wanted it to be 1:1 from skill 1 to 8, they could, but if they wanted to use 1:1 from 1 to 4 and then 2:1 from 5-8, they could do that too.

Yeah, I’m not sure I like it because it is, as you say, non-intuitive. Making it configurable I think would worsen that effect because now not only is it non-intuitive in general, it behaves differently on different games.

Meh. Dice suck :slight_smile:

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