in the Shadow of Greatness


January 22, 2008

attribute conflict: again is Warfare the best?

Martial Arts - Page 5 - theRPGsite

Originally Posted by T
Strength determines how hard you can hit something not how well, and once you've already got hold of someone Strength plays a greater role. But why, other than for game balance, should strength determine unarmed accuracy, when Warfare determines armed accuracy, reflexes and so on?

The why:

Attributes are measures of competency that suppose conflict mastery of the Attribute.

And yet, we balance against other assumptions in how far to take this:
1. we mortals do not understand the competence of Strength, Warfare, Psyche and Endurance that is 5 to 25 times grander than our normal experience.
2. we do not want to rob an Attribute of its implications by grounding it in mortality or ignoring the game design.
3. we understand the game design is telling us 'who wins' an attribute conflict. The game design does not resolve the finer details of how (accuracy, intuition, speed, smarts, planning) as that detail is for the Players and GM to resolve. The systems tells us who wins, the gamers describe the result and try to tweak the consequence if possible (ah, I am defeated but I had an escape planned!)

Because of 1, we do not really understand how dramatic Fiona's intuition or Gerard's speed is.
Because of 2, we do not really want to subtract (for example) intuition from Warfare, even though the rules say that Psyche is intuition (and warnings of danger.)
Because of 3, being strong includes competency and mastery of winning at martial arts.

How does this apply to the question you ask?

Answers to attributes that discuss "my ten years of study in karate" violate 1 above. Answers to attributes that posit that high Strength doesn't make you good at karate violate 3 above.

If a high Strength PC picks up a dagger, he still wins based on martial arts, not the dagger. The details are for the gamers to decide.

Originally Posted by T
I would marginally contest #1 above, ADRPG clearly overstates the ability of Amberites in comparison with Zelazny to the extent that I believe we can have a reasonable understanding of the competence of an Amberite in all areas save Psyche (where we have no base understanding on which to build).
That's a point which has been made here and elsewhere and I won't debate. EW makes some emphasis for Attributes that I don't find supported by the canon, but that's the system at play and why I gave a range of 5 to 25.

I stand by the notion that I answered your 'why'.

Quote: Originally Posted by T
I would more strongly contest your unstated assumption in #2, that unarmed accuracy is a component of Strength (see below).

#3 as stated in no way speaks to whether martial arts skill is necessarily a part of Strength. If we attribute accuracy to Warfare then #3 serves to reinforce that interpretation instead. Moreover, the system most certainly does rely on more than a single attribute to resolve conflicts, and player tactics play a role in determining which combination of Warfare, Endurance, Strength or even Psyche is used to achieve victory. For a simple conflict the value is key, but adjustments to relative ranks are made in respect of the tactics described and the potential interaction of other attributes.

I'm not sure at what point the concept of skill and mastery is divorced from Attribute discussion or how it adds value to the game to think it is.

The genre and rules are clear that Players can define any skill that suits the background on the PC as designed. Skill is trivial compared to Attribute power. To make the case that accuracy is only Warfare rubs against the implications of high rank in Psyche or Strength having mastery. Elsewhere on this board I mention in a detailed response what the rules actually say about tactical Player direction on the outcome of attribute conflict. The shifts for tactics are minor and must be layered before they alter against attribute rank advantages. This supports the notion that SKILL is inherent to high rank.

It is rather pointless to assign martial arts to Strength and then say that skill in Warfare determines if you can use your Strength to hit something. I doubt this is EW's intention and wait for the clarity of your citation.

Quote: Originally Posted by T
Your argument hinges primarily on the comment in the attribute section attributing martial arts ability to strength, and proceeds from there in terms of abstract mechanics. The problem with reference to the book is that, for all that the attribute section ascribes knowledge of martial arts to Strength, the combat section attributes the ability to land blows, even if unarmed, to Warfare. Either interpretation remains valid per ADRPG. I recall some wording describing Warfare and accuracy but would like to see your citation.
I would say my point hinges primarily on the notion of competence in points allocated to be awesome at something. I never want to tell a Player that their points spent on Psyche depend on Warfare or their points spent on Endurance depend on Warfare or their points spent on Strength depend on Warfare.

Endurance is specifically called out in the rules as the tie-breaker and has a special function in support of the other Attributes. Otherwise, the conflict areas are clearly defined and introducing Warfare as a control on Strength is unjustified.

Filed under : Amber at 22.01.2008