Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Building System Familiarity

As I discussed in the Rippers: Prologue post, some game systems have hurdles for new players based on familiarity with the system, and in particular with areas where the player needs to be familiar with a large array of options before they can make informed choices during character creation.

In Fate 3, this was Stunts. In D&D 3.X, it's Feats. In Savage Worlds, it's Edges. For PowerFrame, it's Abilities.

Without a thorough understanding of these areas, players risk making poor choices - either creating mechanically sub-optimal characters, or simply ending up with a character whose capabilities don't match the player's expectations. The hurdle lies in the time and effort required to read through all (or most) of the options, and in knowing the system well enough to be able to judge what is worthwhile and what is less important.

PowerFrame has a list of roughly 50  Abilities, which cover everything from Strength to Politics. There is no divide between "stats" and "skills". The hurdle here, therefore, is knowing which Abilities are mechanically useful versus those that are more for flavour, which ones have core utility and which are required for specialised fields, and which ones you need in order to make your character the way you envision them.

I recently cracked open the PowerFrame document to start work again, and finished off a page I'd been working on last year - Getting to Know the Abilities. It's a summary that goes through and points out the most useful and most frequently used Abilities, and which also provides a brief overview of some specialist areas such as movement, deception, and mysticism. I'm hoping this will be useful to new players trying to get over that initial hurdle.