Sunday, January 11, 2009

House Rule Musings, Part 2 (Edges)

Alright, so if the question becomes a matter of relative value, we need first to identify precisely what values are relative.

Stock Savage Worlds assigns Edges a value equal to that of Characteristics. Improving a Characteristic is the same, roughly, as acquiring a new edge or a new skill, insofar as experience is concerned. Its all very neat and simple, at least as first glace.

However, unlike Characteristics and Skills, Edges do not improve vertically. In stock Savage Worlds, improvement within a vertical progression retains a fixed cost – it costs no more to improve from a d4 to a d6 than it takes to improve a d10 to a d12. Instead, factors external to the progression system impose limits – Characteristics can only be improved once per rank; Skills higher than controlling attributes require the full Advancement to increase. Edges only have rank requirements and prerequisites.

Generally, the acquisition of Edges represents the broadening of a character’s abilities. Like Feats in the d20 system, Edges are what differentiate characters (on paper, at least), especially those who may have similar skills and characteristics. We want Edges to be accessible and affordable. Similarly, we want prerequisites to remain generally in effect, although only Rank will have any impact on cost. Initial discussion yielded a set of rough comparative values:

Basic Edges have a value similar to becoming well trained in a skill (equivalent to improving to a d6). Seasoned Edges have a value similar to becoming very well trained in a skill (equivalent to improving to a d8). Veteran Edges have a value similar to becoming extremely well trained in a skill (equivalent to improving to a d10). Heroic Edges have a value similar to achieving Mastery of a skill (equivalent of improving to a d12). Legendary Edges have twice the cost of Heroic Edges.

However, those costs seemed ridiculously high when considering that, with the IP tracking system, Skills gained experience constantly. Edges would have to be gained through general experience alone. Furthermore, many of the Legendary Edges were just means of improving Characteristics and Skills beyond the normal maximums. The new experience system could easily accommodate such improvements without using Edges; the few remaining Edges really were not worth the steep additional cost, especially when considering the often stringent prerequisites. A new cost breakdown was needed.

Earned general experience should be between half and a third of what any well used skill will gain per session. Using this as a guideline, the next step involved taking the skill improvement experience costs and dividing them by 3 to yield what could be a better result. Assuming a 10x multiple for skill improvement, and calculating total cost of the skill acquisition (not just from, say d6 to d8, but its cost all the way from nothing) yielded the following:

  • Basic Edges: 33 XP (100/3)

  • Seasoned Edges: 60 XP (180/3)

  • Veteran Edges: 93 XP (280/3)

  • Heroic and Legendary Edges: 133 XP (400/3)

Better, but still pretty rough. 3’s, let alone remainders, aren’t helpful for fast play, so we figured rounding the numbers should help. But even at 30-60-90-130 the breakdown was not particularly intuitive. Adjusting the final cost for the Heroic/Legendary group could at least result in costs being multiples of 30, a method much easier to remember. The new working cost values were as follows:

  • Basic Edges: 30 XP

  • Seasoned Edges: 60 XP

  • Veteran Edges: 90 XP

  • Heroic/Legendary Edges: 120 XP

Now we were getting somewhere. The range of point costs is more in line with where we want to be. Edges are not prohibitively expensive, but are not incredibly easy to acquire, either. However, when we looked back at the design progression from the process of brainstorming we recalled a couple of things. First, was noting that new edges cost the same as new skills in stock Savage Worlds. And secondly, keeping that in mind, we realized that perhaps the initial assumption - costs should be calculated reflecting skill advancement from unskilled all the way to its current value - was incorrect. From the costs we'd just derived, higher ranked Edges mirrored the costs of Skill advancement from one tier to the next relatively closely. So, we decided to keep costs closer to that standard -- resulting in less to remember and maintaining the spirit of the "FFF" philosophy.

The final costs for Edges in General experience points is:

  • Basic Edges: 40 XP (same cost as a new Skill; buying d4)

  • Seasoned Edges: 60 XP (Improving to d6)

  • Veteran Edges: 80 XP (Improving to d8)

  • Heroic Edges: 100 XP (Improving to d10)

  • Legendary Edges: 120 XP (Improving to d12)

This method results in generally lower costs, except at the lower ranks. Prerequisites, aside from rank, remain standard. The progression syncs up nicely with the Skill experience system so there is less to learn. Obviously, some edges may need to be modified (or removed) to account for these changes. But otherwise, it works.

Of course, we still need to examine how to improve Characteristics.

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