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    Default Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Inspired by my previous thread and a conversation I had I was wondering what pet peves you guys have when it comes to the mechanics or setting of tabletop games.

    One of my pet peeves is how systems sometimes assumes certain styles of play without telling you like how in certain editions of D&D the to-hit and ac of monsters accelerates past you unless you focus on the right magical items. This annoys me because the first campaign tends to end in frustration because the monster was hitting the fighter on a three because you focused on giving interesting magic items to them so the fighter still had 21 ac.

    Another is when systems are based on your party being part of an organization with few or no rules on how that organization works. For example in Dark Heresy you are part of what's essentially the FBI with a private army but outside of it being the source of your adventures the game gives very little info on how to work in this system so the GM has to figure out how to determine things that should already be covered like requesting equipment temporarily or getting in touch with other assets. This means as a person who likes mechanics for things like that over figuring it out on the spot ends up writing a significant amount of rules to make up for it.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    You're really supposed to ask nicely, and already be familiar with the Imperial Inquisition's operating procedures. Also, requisitioning anything big, like the support of a regiment of the Imperial Guard, isn't the purview of the acolytes, it's the prerogative of the Inquisitor. The players should inform her if they need heavy support from the Guard, Sisters, AdMech, or Space Marines, and she should arrange to have that support if it's available and within her power at the GM's discretion. The basic mechanic for it is a requisitions test, possibly preceded by a variety of other opposed tests, Commerce being the book-recommended one, but Intimidate, Charm, and Command are also definitely skills to consider. Getting in touch with other Imperial troops is definitely subject to the plot, because there may not be a significant Imperial Guard or Adepta Sororitas presence on the planet you're at. It's also never really assumed the Inquisition will give anything they take back, because they don't. It's logistically easier for the Departmento Munitorium to give you the meltagun permanently than it is for them to loan it to you, such is the massive bureaucracy of the Imperium of Man.


    Anyway, the thing I like least are HP. I just find them kind of wonky, and a hold over from tactical wargaming where a unit represented a platoon or company of men, a scenario in which HP would represent a combination of remaining personnel and unit cohesion. I like wargaming, but I do feel that HP is just a kind of weird mechanic that does weird things to the way people fight and damage is resolved in an RPG when you're playing a single character.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Any system where as the characters grow in power, the spellcasters become Supreme Masters of the Overcosmos, while the martial types become Guy With A Sword Who Hits a Little Harder. Unless everyone's supposed to play the spellcasters, like in Ars Magica.

    Any random character generation system that can leave one player with Captain America and another with Aunt May. (IIRC, REIGN gets this right - their random character generation gives everyone the same number of points, just allocates them for you - complete with backstory.)

    Most of the rest of D&D, really. a b0rked economy, levels, gear-dependency, a bazillion stereotyped races, a bazllion sterotyped classes, inflating hitpoints, x-uses-per-day powers, AC...

    Any game that lets people expend XP to use them as Luck Points. It's like a very slow death spiral for the unlucky or luck-pushing.

    A lot of rolls to resolve one sword swipe. Initiative roll, Attack roll, Defense roll, Damage Roll, Soak Roll....(Even more annoying in Exalted 2nd ed, with its carefully stratified 'use THIS Charm at THIS step' system, and characters who can make flurries of attacks.)
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    My biggest pet peeve is poorly written abilities that made it through editing and never get an official errata, leading to table variance that isn't needed.

    Example: Pathfinder's Witch has the Flight Hex, which gives the witch several abilities. The first is a constant skill bonus, the second two are the ability to "cast" two spells. The third is the ability to fly for a few minutes per day. It is listed as Supernatural, which means it falls under a vaguely defined niche and has sparked endless debate on how each works, what actions they require and everything. No official answer years after the class came out.

    I also hate trap options. If you feel you have to rip the power out of something to the point it is not viable, just don't make it an option. Don't put it out there to kill new players.

    Caster martial disparity has simply become part of certain games, and I don't mind a little complexity of it makes for a good simulation. One of my favorite combat systems is Anima: Beyond Fantasy. It requires two rolls and proportional mathematics to resolve even the simplest attack.

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    There are so many things wrong with D&D 3.X and Pathfinder. I'll still play it if my friends want to, but I prefer to stay away from it if I can. A curse on those games. Ugh

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Any subsystem that makes you lose permanent resources (like EXP) for any kind of non-permanent resources, be it rerolls, or stats that can be reduced permanently after you've bought them up.

    Any subsystem that discourages active action.

    Any subsystem that penalizes you for having a bad stat, but doesn't really do anything if you have a high stat. Bonus points if that stat is integral for every character in the game.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by BlizzardSucks80 View Post
    There are so many things wrong with D&D 3.X and Pathfinder. I'll still play it if my friends want to, but I prefer to stay away from it if I can. A curse on those games. Ugh
    you won't be popular around here with opinions like that (even if it's true).

    biggest tabletop pet peeve for me? overly complicated systems. i get it. collecting dice is fun, but do i really need to use 5 different dice for one attack resolution? plus bonuses? give me straight up d100's, please. this goes for both dnd and cthulutech, and cthulutech goes the extra mile for being based on d100 skills on top of d20-like mechanics. kudos, i can't think of a less user-friendly system that i've played.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    I hate when the fluff description of a rule only applies if you optimized the way the writers expected you to.

    For example: The tank warrior is a matter of melee combat and can dish out and take huge amounts of damage! (Unless you didn't roll an 18 for Muscles and you rolled below average for your Meat Points.) The sage is a master of magic and knowledge and knows a lot about everything (unless you didn't put a 20 in Brains, because the Sage class only gets 1 skill point because it's assumed you'll have that high Brains score for the bonus skill points).

    They say things like "fighters are strong" but what they mean is "fighters suck unless they're strong, so you shouldn't play one unless you have high strength". The class descriptions are actually prescriptions, but they don't tell you that.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    I have a lot of problems with the way many games use dice. For example, things like 'roll to see if you can do X' where failing just means 'try again until you succeed'. Similarly, rolling for things where leaving them in question is simply not interesting, such as some success accumulation systems where you roll until you collect a sufficient number in order to determine how long something takes (when often how long it takes isn't so relevant that the variation in the outcome will make a difference).

    Worse is when system designers don't really get how successive rolls interact with probability, because in that case you can have potentially interesting things which just become impossible to rely on in any real way, meaning that it tends to decrease the tactical and strategic diversity of the game. For example, take something like a stealthy infiltration in systems where you might have to reroll your check (or where it's not made clear when checks should be rerolled). So now, if I have a 20% failure chance on one check, after 2 checks my failure chance nearly doubles (36%), and after 5 it's up to a 70% failure chance. On the other hand, a success in such a system doesn't tend to earn more than 'keep going until the next check', so eventually even minute failure chances build up. So its much more stable to design along the lines of e.g. 'when infiltrating a given location with a shared alarm, only roll stealth once'. Similarly something like grapple rules in D&D 3.5 which has multiple successive checks to navigate the endeavor, or stunting rules in some systems where choosing to stunt adds extra gatekeeper rolls rather than replacing rolls, have this kind of problem.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    I see no problem with someone saying that they don't like 3.5/PF so long as they stay out of the relevant sub-forum - a lot of people don't like those systems, or facets of them at least. Also saying "don't like" is not saying "intrinsically bad" which is what really annoys people - one is personal opinion which we are welcome to, the other is a red rag to a bull.

    Anyway my pet peeves:

    Systems where being good at a skill makes it possible for you to fail more spectacularly than someone untrained (old WoD I'm looking at you).
    Skill systems that seem to define more what a character cannot do than what they can (yes this could be D20, but I am looking at the BECMI Gazatteers which were much much worse).
    Systems where the resourse allocation system for character creation looks to flow seamlessly into the experience system - then the experience system doesn't use the same resource system (and worse, if it depends on the DM's imagination - Squadron UK).
    Combat-based systems where starting characters are incredibly fragile and liable to die to a lucky roll from an opponent only there to illustrate how combat works (RoleMaster/MERP).
    Last edited by Khedrac; 2018-02-01 at 03:44 AM.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Games with such a skewed skill:skill point ratio that characters can't even be good at one role.

    Excessively random character creation for anything other than a one-shot.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Character classes, or any attempt to enshrine archetypes or certain favored concepts into the mechanics.

    Level-based progression, particularly of the D&D "zero to worldbreaker" variety.

    Hyperscaling Hit Points that end up turning the exact same sword wound that was highly lethal early into the game into a minor inconvenience or trivial scratch after some progression.

    Any attempt to defend HHP by trying to claim that it's a muddle of overlapping mash of situational concepts that are also addressed elsewhere in the mechanics.

    Random character creation of any kind, particularly mandatory random backstory.

    "Save or suck", "save or die", and "no defense for you" powers, abilities, or mechanics of any kind.

    Attempts to emulate genre, particularly when poorly done or inherently self-contradictory.

    Rules that can't handle the mundane because their creators were to concerned with "what the game is about".

    Rules that break down the instant someone stops treating them like blown glass art.

    "Pay to suck" skill systems, wherein it requires a major investment just to be bad at something, and then you still have to go up from there.

    Systems that lock basic combat maneuvers that anyone trained in a weapon should be able to use, behind big additional investments or reserve them for one class as a way to make that class "unique".

    Systems that lock basic life skills or basic adventuring skills behind big investments or as part of reserved niche protection... "only thieves can be sneaky".
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-01 at 07:54 AM.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    Systems where being good at a skill makes it possible for you to fail more spectacularly than someone untrained (old WoD I'm looking at you).
    As an aside, that got addressed, but for some reason a lot of groups seem to completely miss the fix for years afterwards through multiple editions.

    (The fix being that even a single success was enough to prevent a botch, regardless of the number of 1s rolled, IIRC.)


    So there's a pet-peeve... adjustments and corrections in a new edition that aren't sufficiently explained or pointed out, resulting in many groups continuing to use the broken rules that those corrections were meant to fix.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-01 at 10:23 AM.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    A lengthy character creation process without a shorter alternative.
    Yes I totally get wanting the "mini-game" of making a special custom snowflake PC, but sometimes you just want to get to "What do you do?" faster.

    Multiple skills/powers/abilities that do the same thing.
    This happens a lot with "Social skills", Call of Cthullu haa "Charm", "Fast Talk", "Oratory", and "Persuade", 5e Dungeons & Dragons has "Deception", "Intimidation", and "Persuasion", yes I get that these are different "flavors" of convincing someone, but kinda redundant.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    As an aside, that got addressed, but for some reason a lot of groups seem to completely miss the fix for years afterwards through multiple editions.

    (The fix being that even a single success was enough to prevent an botch, regardless of the number of 1s rolled, IIRC.)


    So there's pet-peeve... adjustments and corrections in a new edition that aren't sufficiently explained or pointed out, resulting in many groups continuing to use the broken rules that those corrections were meant to fix.
    i've noticed in my area that there's a clear lack of "faq-errata reflexes". a lot of people play dnd without checking if there are erratas, faq's, and fixes, and when one actually pulls out the relevant fix or errata, players and dm's alike call it a house-rule... just because they don't know that such a ressource exists. now, wouldn't an official fix be considered the base game and playing without it be a house-rule? and yet, when you tell people that such a service exists (wotc, paizo, white wolf, ffg...) they automatically think it's fan-made.

    some explanations i dislike because of past house rules that streamlined the way it worked, but when the official makes it both clearer and working as intended, i can't see why anyone would play without it unless they simply didn't know about it.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Any system based on an existing fiction, where the sample story characters have levels of power/competence that can't possibly be met by player characters without about 10 years of playtime. (IIRC, the old Star Wars RPG was bad for this.)
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    I'm not a huge fan of rules in a system that don't respect playability.

    Maybe it is the most balanced or the most realistic way to make you roll five times and check against five tables with modifiers for each result to determine if you've hit someone in a fight. That doesn't matter when the combat has become unplayably long.
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Not allowing you to easily break out of the stereotypical genre tropes.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    DM picks what the player summons.

    Elaborate intricate rules on what to roll for a skill where the DM still has to make up every DC (why waste my time)

    HP on monsters.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    I really get annoyed with systems that have poorly designed grappling rules. In every game I've run, no matter the system, someone is gonna want someone pinned down for reasons. So many systems out there have clunky grappling rules that feel like they were tacked on after the fact. Probably were in some cases.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Multiple skills/powers/abilities that do the same thing.
    This happens a lot with "Social skills", Call of Cthulhu has "Charm", "Fast Talk", "Oratory", and "Persuade", 5e Dungeons & Dragons has "Deception", "Intimidation", and "Persuasion", yes I get that these are different "flavors" of convincing someone, but kinda redundant.
    Everyone else stay out of this. 2D8HP is just utterly incorrect when it comes to the underlined section. Silly, silly ranger, you're just wrong. And here's why!

    Call of C'thulhu is not only a skill-heavy system, it is a skill-based system. Heck, maybe I'd even call it a skill-only system, but there are a few attribute checks. On top of that, it is an information-gathering game. As such, the granularity of skills is an asset, not a flaw, and one that really allows different characters in this investigative game to shine. It really does help prevent the paradigm where everyone just waits for the one "social" character to make their uber-rolls and then the story continues. Sure, one character might be good at a couple of those...or maybe all four...but it'd be easy to see situations in which the dilettante can charm...but you need the crook to fast-talk past the security guard, the priest to use oratory to calm the mob with torches and pitchforks and the spy to persuade the shopkeeper to let her see the ledgers showing the orders from that Whately family.

    And best of all? CoC actually empowers players to make their characters in such a fashion, more fully linking concept to mechanical/game abilities. Which brings me to one of my peeves:

    Games which straddle level-base and skill-base and then fail to provide all/some character types with sufficient skill development opportunity to actually matter. That spawns the skill-monkey-while-everyone-else-twiddles-their-thumbs problem, even if a couple of other classes get a couple useful profession based skills (ala Arcana and Religion).

    Not all such straddle games are bad, in my opinion...I love RoleMaster, for instance...but this was one of the parts of D&D 3.x that I disliked.

    So the second part of 2D8HP's comment is correct. Probably.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by DigoDragon View Post
    I really get annoyed with systems that have poorly designed grappling rules. In every game I've run, no matter the system, someone is gonna want someone pinned down for reasons. So many systems out there have clunky grappling rules that feel like they were tacked on after the fact. Probably were in some cases.
    What about if a system simply lacks any grappling rules?

    Especially in a modern game with guns etc. - it sort of feels out of place.

    "You want ta' shoot me with them gunz!? Let's wrastle!"
    Last edited by CharonsHelper; 2018-02-01 at 04:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    What about if a system simply lacks any grappling rules?

    Especially in a modern game with guns etc. - it sort of feels out of place.
    Might be worse in that situation. As I said, grappling always comes up at some point in every game I've run. It's probably that my old group just worked that way, but even in a modern setting with guns there can be situations where a PC wants to grab someone; maybe to take a hostage, or wrestle away a weapon, or just to pin down a target so another PC can interrogate.
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    frown Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    I don't think D&D 3.X or Pathfinder are bad games. If you enjoy them, great. More power to you. In fact, D&D 3.5 holds a special place in my heart, for it was the game that I was first introduced to this hobby with, all those years ago. Both D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder have been inspirations to me.

    However, whenever I play it with my group, stuff always seems to go wrong. It's probably my group and/or me that is at fault here, but these systems really don't help things when crap hits the fan, you know?

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by BlizzardSucks80 View Post
    I don't think D&D 3.X or Pathfinder are bad games. If you enjoy them, great. More power to you. In fact, D&D 3.5 holds a special place in my heart, for it was the game that I was first introduced to this hobby with, all those years ago. Both D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder have been inspirations to me.

    However, whenever I play it with my group, stuff always seems to go wrong. It's probably my group and/or me that is at fault here, but these systems really don't help things when crap hits the fan, you know?
    ain't nothing like losing 45 minutes of play-time to go dig out a rulebook at find out how works an obscure mechanic, only to find you misread another rule and have been using it wrong all session...

    i prefer pf, myself, just because it streamlined some of the more abhorrent rules and mechanics of dnd. still prefer dnd fluff, though.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordar View Post
    Everyone else stay out of this. 2D8HP is just utterly incorrect when it comes to the underlined section. Silly, silly ranger, you're just wrong. And here's why!

    Call of C'thulhu is...

    Oh?

    You want to rumble old man(or is it young man? I forget)?!!

    Well BRING IT ON!!!

    Your so wrongly wrong WRONG because. ...
    .... yeah I got nothing, it's been too many years since I last played CoC.
    Sorry.


    I mean, MY STUNNING HUMILITY PREVENTS ME FROM COMMENTING FURTHER!!!

    That's the ticket!

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by DigoDragon View Post
    Might be worse in that situation. As I said, grappling always comes up at some point in every game I've run. It's probably that my old group just worked that way, but even in a modern setting with guns there can be situations where a PC wants to grab someone; maybe to take a hostage, or wrestle away a weapon, or just to pin down a target so another PC can interrogate.
    Curious - would it need to have grappling specific rules, or would more general ability checks work when they're designed to fill in the gaps that the crunchy parts don't cover?

    Note: I may or may not be asking as I reconsider grappling rules for my own system.
    Last edited by CharonsHelper; 2018-02-01 at 06:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    Curious - would it need to have grappling specific rules, or would more general ability checks work when they're designed to fill in the gaps that the crunchy parts don't cover?

    Note: I may or may not be asking as I reconsider grappling rules for my own system.
    I think general ability checks could suffice. D&D 5e seems to have reduced grappling to a simple contest of opposing checks.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by DigoDragon View Post
    I think general ability checks could suffice. D&D 5e seems to have reduced grappling to a simple contest of opposing checks.
    That's correct, but one note about 5e grappling--all it does is reduce speed to 0 and allow the grappler to drag the grappled at 1/2 speed. Imposing restrained is harder and not entirely well supported (outside a particularly weak feat). You can, on subsequent attacks try to knock the grappled target prone, which imposes much the same difficulties (can't get up, disadvantage on attacks, others have advantage on attacks from melee range). Both of these are an opposed check:

    Strength (+ Athletics proficiency if available) on the grappler's part vs MAX(Strength (Athletics), Dexterity (Acrobatics)) on the grappled's part.
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    Default Re: Biggest tabletop system pet peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordar View Post
    Everyone else stay out of this. 2D8HP is just utterly incorrect when it comes to the underlined section. Silly, silly ranger, you're just wrong. And here's why!

    Call of C'thulhu is not only a skill-heavy system, it is a skill-based system. Heck, maybe I'd even call it a skill-only system, but there are a few attribute checks. On top of that, it is an information-gathering game. As such, the granularity of skills is an asset, not a flaw, and one that really allows different characters in this investigative game to shine. It really does help prevent the paradigm where everyone just waits for the one "social" character to make their uber-rolls and then the story continues. Sure, one character might be good at a couple of those...or maybe all four...but it'd be easy to see situations in which the dilettante can charm...but you need the crook to fast-talk past the security guard, the priest to use oratory to calm the mob with torches and pitchforks and the spy to persuade the shopkeeper to let her see the ledgers showing the orders from that Whately family.

    And best of all? CoC actually empowers players to make their characters in such a fashion, more fully linking concept to mechanical/game abilities. Which brings me to one of my peeves:

    Games which straddle level-base and skill-base and then fail to provide all/some character types with sufficient skill development opportunity to actually matter. That spawns the skill-monkey-while-everyone-else-twiddles-their-thumbs problem, even if a couple of other classes get a couple useful profession based skills (ala Arcana and Religion).

    Not all such straddle games are bad, in my opinion...I love RoleMaster, for instance...but this was one of the parts of D&D 3.x that I disliked.

    So the second part of 2D8HP's comment is correct. Probably.

    - M
    Sadly, this reminds me of another pet peeve: 'go fish' gameplay (be it skills, attributes, etc). The kind of game where character creation is basically trying to guess which checks out of a big list are most likely to come up, and then during play those abilities pretty much have to wait for the GM to call for them to see any use. Spot, Listen, Climb, Balance, Swim, Disable Device, Search, Survival, and many Knowledge skills work this way in 3.5 for example. If you have Charm and go up to someone to engage them with it, and the GM says 'your intent is deception, so use Fast Talk instead' then that's a 'go fish' type of situation.

    Skills should each promote at least one proactive thing that the character can reliably initiate, and where the results are fairly well defined. E.g. in the above case, if Charm can always be used to 'get someone to absolve the character of perceived wrongdoing or suspicion' then even if it's a 'fast talk kind of situation' on the face of it, the person with Charm can figure out ways to use their skill. So then choosing Charm over Fast Talk isn't divvying up the rolls between characters, but is rather making a stylistic choice about gameplay feel.
    Last edited by NichG; 2018-02-01 at 08:33 PM.

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