Author Topic: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion  (Read 3347 times)

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Offline Conor (Former ST)

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Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« on: February 13, 2012, 05:49:45 pm »
There's been some chatter amongst the staff recently about ability learning times, and we've been thinking of changing Ability learning times from what we have now:

x1 - One Month (Current Month, On-Demand)
x2 - Four Months
x3 - Six Months
x4 - Eight Months
x5 - Ten Months

to:

x1 - One Month (Current Month, On-Demand)
x2 - Two Months
x3 - Three Months
x4 - Four Months
x5 - Five Months

And the staff consensus falls on "we should see how the playerbase feels about this."

Thoughts?  This will likely turn into a poll, eventually, but at the moment we'd like to know how people feel about it.

Offline Seven Mountains

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 05:55:11 pm »
I like the current system
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Offline Sir Garret of the Fuzzies

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2012, 06:20:05 pm »
I don't mind the current System, however, the thing that gets me, is not being able to buy over 5 dots of abilities in a month.  Theoretically, if I've been learning Brawl x5 slowly over the past 10 months, there's no reason in that 10th month I couldn't purchase Brawl x5 and Computers x1.

Also, and I know I've said this before...  But I would like to modify the "Teacher's Rule" where you need a teacher beyond the first dot.  Personally I feel that if you've been actively pursuing higher ability levels but have been unable to find a teacher; committing double the amount of time required to personal study, you should be able to buy up the ability. 

I think this makes sense for a lot of abilities as well.  If say Garret wanted to go from Primal Urge 3 to Primal Urge 4, it ought to take me 16 months without a teacher.  This will allow for the players who have been around for a while who cannot find teachers (or the people they can learn from are dirty stinking metis) to still advance but at a much slower rate, while still being able to teach others at the Sept who will be advancing at twice their rate.

This of course doesn't apply to things that are secret, like Lores and what not, but things you can actively practice to self-teach I think you should be able to buy up the ability at twice the time as someone who is going through instruction.
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Offline Techu

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2012, 06:23:49 pm »
The current system is realistic. The new proposal means my character could, for example, go from not being able to carry a tune to being one of the best singers in the worlds in a year and three months. That seems patently silly to me. I know long learning times can be frustrating, but the new system seems designed to appeal to powergamers, which is very much not my style of play.

Tom's point about self-teaching makes sense, and I would have no objection to that change being implemented. I can see an argument being made either way about the 5 dots limit, and have no preference there.
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Offline Nike 'Slays the Patriarchy' Strilakos

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2012, 06:29:44 pm »
while i would love shorter learning times, Josh is right, for some things it makes no sense like with singing.  for other htings like empathy, it doesnt or does it make sense to need a techer nescesarily at all...
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Offline Anklebiter Leaps-into-Danger

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2012, 06:35:21 pm »
It depends on the feel we want for the game. If we want a grittier, more realistic game, keep it the way it is. If we want a more epic legendary sort of game, lower the learning times. I'm happy playing in either. The real question I have is:

Do the learning times have a significant impact on those players that take their characters to/from other games and do we care?

Offline Nike 'Slays the Patriarchy' Strilakos

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2012, 06:53:40 pm »
 there are so many different things that make our game's characters underpowered at other games that this is a drop in a bucket...
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Offline Arthur A Dennison

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2012, 06:57:49 pm »
It's really six of one half a dozen of another on the overpowered front. In HF raising traits is really slow, but you can pretty much just buy abilities as you see fit...within reason. We don't require a teacher until after the third dot, really, and even then you can eke by with good justification.

Then again, the maximum you can buy for traits there is two per month. And that's not per category, two total traits period.

Other games don't really blink when their players start buying tribe specific out of BTA gifts, seems like, so that's what you're up against...=T

My opinion is pretty much what's been said so far...keep the times, slack the reins on teachers.
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Offline Mass Trauma NPC

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2012, 07:43:12 pm »
My problem is actually more that I'm going to end up with a point in every ability because it take me 4 months to learn my second point of anything IF I can find a teacher. This leaves me with exp that I just dump on random abilities because why not? I have no schtick other than what I entered game with, and I only have that because I had the forethought to realize I'd never get an ability above 2 otherwise.

Offline Conor (Former ST)

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2012, 07:59:10 pm »
Do the learning times have a significant impact on those players that take their characters to/from other games and do we care?

As far as I know, we currently have the harshest learning time rules in the org, at least on the Garou side.  Whether we care or not is part of the discussion here.

Other games don't really blink when their players start buying tribe specific out of BTA gifts, seems like, so that's what you're up against...=T

Really?  Alex's out-of-BTA got redlined at Baneklaive and Nonklaive without much chance for appeal.

Offline Arthur A Dennison

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2012, 08:16:40 pm »
Funny that, considering how many Not Shadow Lords, Not Ahrouns were throwing around Fatal Flaw and Spirit of the Fray in that Demon BSD fight.
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Offline Taweret

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2012, 08:17:47 pm »
Somw players have almost half their gifts out of BTA with no SN.

I have thoughts, but too many for posting on my phone during rehearsal. Will post again when I get home.
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Offline Damien Eneas

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2012, 08:21:28 pm »
A thought on the teacher rule.  In the Table Top version of Werewolf all Abilities were split into three categories, Talents, Skills, and Knowledges.  This distinction was mostly to deal with untrained rolls where a player tried to do a thing that had to do with an ability but had no dots in it.  Rolls with Talents had no penalty, rolls with Skills had a higher difficult, and rolls with Knowledges couldn't be done at all without at least one dot in it.

This isn't useful to us on the surface, but it does present another option if you look at it right.  These categories were filled with abilities where the above rule would make sense.  Talents tended to be instinctual things you had a knack for, Skills were harder and benefited from having training but you could wing it in a pinch, Knowledges needed training.

Perhaps the Staff can split up the giant list of abilities in MET into similar groups.  A Talent group where one doesn't need a teacher because self-teaching is reasonable way to learn, like with Empathy.  A Skill group where one can either be taught at the normal rate with a teacher, or just apply brute force and learn on their own at twice the time.  Finally a Knowledge group where you cannot learn a new level at all without a teacher.

I think distinctions like these would allow more freedom while keeping in the spirit of the teacher system.
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Offline Seven Mountains

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2012, 08:37:19 pm »
I like Tom's idea of learning at twice cost without a teacher.
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Offline Nike 'Slays the Patriarchy' Strilakos

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2012, 08:54:22 pm »
i like chris's idea, and we already have some precident, in that some abilities can be taght to level rather then one dot below level...
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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2012, 10:08:31 pm »
I think I'm in favor of several of these suggestions. I'd like to see shorter learning times, and I really like Chris's suggestion to split abilities back into the 3 categories. I also think that maybe instead of 5 levels of ability per month, it could instead be capped at 2 or 3 ability purchases per month, regardless of level, so that you could buy Brawl 5 and Computers 1, but not Survival 1, Dodge 1, Empathy 1, Streetwise 1 and Flight 1 in the same downtime.
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Offline Sir Garret of the Fuzzies

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2012, 10:23:56 pm »
As a second thought on this, I think the learning times should be something like this:

1x: On Demand
2x: Two Months
3x: Three Months
4x: Nine Months
5x: Fourteen Months

In this model, it takes the same amount time as our current model, but players can reach proficiency in about five months of play, grabbing three dots in an ability.  Levels four and Five become vastly more difficult.  In actual play, having 5 dots in something against someone with 3 dots in something gains you a slight mechanical edge, though who is winning on ties is far more relevant.  This allows players to become competitive with older characters much earlier on, however it allows old characters a slight edge beyond their traits and gifts, and flattens out the playing field.

Personally we're a game with very few "In-between" characters, and most lie on one end or the other of the spectrum.  Creating a larger gap between the master levels, and shortening the gap of the novice levels will help get rid of that edge, while allowing for a steady character progression.

I think if anything should be done to the learning times, its that.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2012, 11:09:59 pm by Sir Garret of the Fuzzies »
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Offline Taweret

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2012, 10:27:22 pm »
I'd rather not go with Barek or Chris's suggestion, because this sounds way too complicated. It's hard enough for the staff to keep up with downtime actions, Fetish Creations, Influences, Backgrounds, requests for NPC teachers, as well as demands for scenes for most learned abilities, Gifts, and other spends/requests.

I'm all for Tom's suggestion of altered times depending on if a teacher is available or not. Just because there's nobody to teach her doesn't mean Alice hasn't been Empathetic enough to up her score.

All of this is within reason, of course. Players need to have good REASONS for what they're doing. Alice can't pick her nose for a year then buy something like Drive x4. She has to be actively driving and looking to improve her skills in that time.

There is elegance in simplicity. Let's try to get it back to that.
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Offline Justin Northwood

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2012, 11:07:06 pm »
I kind of like Tom's suggestion that increases the times after x3

I also kind of like Berek's idea of some number of Ability purchases per month, instead of the five combined levels cap.  Three seems like a good number.

If the limiting factor is really the time between levels, then why obsess any longer over how many combined levels one can obtain in a given month?  Instead, why not just stick to some number of Ability purchases, regardless of level.  By the time you're finally upping from x4 to x5, it isn't necessarily more work for that month just because its a x5; you've been working on it for fourteen months already.

This might also have the effect of limiting "just because" new Ability purchases at x1.  It would force us to be more judicious in determining which Abilities are important to the character, by putting the focus on the number of purchases, instead of the number of combined levels (five x1's vs. one x5).

I will also add that the five combined levels cap was devised and in place long before any kind of learning time restrictions were.  If memory serves, the five combined levels were also devised when the game met twice per month (two downtimes) and has always been per-downtime.

Regarding teachers, I can see merit in going with a system that allows the teacher's level or lower to be taught across the board (no +1 on skills/talents), and that makes exceptions to the teachers rule at ST discretion and/or increased learning times - double, for example.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 06:30:17 pm by Administrator »
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Offline Justin Northwood

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2012, 05:53:20 pm »
So, my mind right now straddles the line somewhere between staff and player.  I can see the ins and outs of this from both sides pretty clearly.  Gathering from what I believe are the most important takeaways posted here so far, the following is what I would propose:

Learning Times:
1x: On Demand
2x: Two Months
3x: Three Months
4x: Nine Months
5x: Fourteen Months

Monthly Cap:
Any three Ability purchases, at any level.

Teachers:
One may teach an Ability at any level less than or equal to their own, regardless of Ability.
Without a teacher, one may learn any Ability up to x3, with justification, subject to staff approval.
Learning an Ability at x4 or x5 always requires a teacher, or double the learning time, with significant alternate sources of instruction, subject to staff pre-approval.
Certain rare or specialized Abilities, at staff discretion, may always require a teacher regardless of circumstances.


As a note, teaching and learning through roleplay should always be encouraged.  I imagine it ought to be one of the factors that earns you (or lacking, doesn't earn you) Good Roleplaying XP each month.  To be clear, I am not advocating that Good Roleplaying XP awards be judged solely on teacher vs. teacher-less learning or instruction.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 07:17:44 pm by MarcBerm »
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Offline Sir Garret of the Fuzzies

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2012, 07:03:21 pm »
I like Marc's suggestion a lot...

Like a lot.
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Offline Taweret

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2012, 07:08:10 pm »
Ditto.

Heh. Pack thinking.
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Offline MAGNUSSON PAYS WITH BLOOD

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2012, 09:08:12 pm »
I also think Marc's proposal is a good way to deal with learning abilities. It also seems easy to implement by the STs, which is also an important consideration.
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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2012, 10:05:20 pm »
I dig it. Good balance.
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Offline Anklebiter Leaps-into-Danger

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2012, 10:09:37 pm »
I would simplify it and give those as the times with a teacher and double time without a teacher.

Offline Stephen King

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #25 on: February 15, 2012, 02:55:54 am »
So my two cents:

The conversation so far seems quite in line with my thinking. My only caviate , which hasn't been disscussed, is that the learning times should begin, I think begin from character gen. One doesn't simply pick up a hammer one day and become a carpenter. There is usually a collection of foraged information there before a person begins to learn in earnest. This would only apply to those moving past the fourteen month time frame. So if a character begins learning after they are not limited to a year and a half of waiting, and one or two ranks on capped traits, waiting to pick up a new ability

i.e. Learning times
1x: On Demand
2x: One Month
3x: Two Months
4x: Five Months
5x: Nine Months

This may seem a little slanted in favor of those playing longer but in most cases those characters have often garnered their bit of education. Please note this still has the requirement of a teacher.
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Offline Justin Northwood

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2012, 12:27:44 pm »
I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, Dan.  Maybe clarify?

I think I'm missing the intent behind the learning times you've specified.  In which cases would these apply?

Prerequisite and "foraged" knowledge can be a crap shoot, since there's no authority to verify your information.  For instance, one's compendium of "Vampire Lore" (without the appropriate Ability) coming entirely from watching the Twilight series.  While much general knowledge will be accumulated over a lifetime, I think it's a stretch to assume this would be a foundation for anything "real."  Existing for some period of time does not equate to knowing the foundations of "everything you could possibly want to learn" (new Abilities).

Perhaps I am misunderstanding...
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Offline Anklebiter Leaps-into-Danger

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #27 on: February 15, 2012, 12:50:19 pm »
One thing I'd like clarified is how these apply to new characters. Is it assumed that Anklebiter (whose first session was Saturday) just earned Brawl 2 and needs the full learning time to acquire Brawl 3, or that he has had Brawl 2 for a sufficiently long period of time that I can immediately buy Brawl 3, or is there some hazy middle ground limbo?

Offline Justin Northwood

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #28 on: February 15, 2012, 01:01:38 pm »
Greg's question highlights the issue of what happens when "better" sometimes means "more complicated."

Simple is good.  I like simple :)
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 01:02:14 pm by MarcBerm »
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Offline Techu

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #29 on: February 15, 2012, 01:15:19 pm »
Greg's question was just as applicable to the old system as it is to the new system. Not saying it's not a valid question, just saying it's not "more complicated."
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Offline Brian Green

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #30 on: February 15, 2012, 02:13:59 pm »
I finally saw this thread.

So: Firstly, I saw a potential reduction of learning times and screamed Yes! I liked that first suggestion put forward by the staff. Quite frankly, I do not play Werewolf the Apocalypse out of a need for realness.

The modified table, proposed by Tom, wherein the 4th and 5th dots take far more time is great as far as I'm concerned, for reasons others have already listed.

The idea of discretion in what does and does not require a teacher simply makes sense. Discretion usually does.

Lastly, for now: I, too, like Marc's summary and blending of the ideas that have been put forward.

Offline Jerry Castillo

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #31 on: February 15, 2012, 02:27:26 pm »
I think that Dan's idea suggests that Learning Times take into account the amount of time a character has existed, to sort of offer "back-credit" for the kind of experience one gains simply for being an active Garou.  For example, a character who has been around for a year and a half may never have bought any Brawl or spent any downtime being taught Brawl by a teacher, but chances are they've been in more brawls than they care to remember.  That sort of cobbled-together experience should make learning easier.  Likewise, people who have fought vampires before but never been taught Vampire Lore already know some things, like that vampires are weaker during the day time and can create hideous flesh-servants.  This basis of knowledge might reasonably be expected to shorten the time to learn the actual ability, should a character decide to do so relatively late in their career.

That said, I believe that although it makes sense for some Abilities, it really doesn't for others (it's quite possible, even likely, for your Metis to have been around for six years and know no more about Drive today then he did when he had his First Change).  I'm not really in favor of systems where the STs need to make judgment calls on each Ability for each Character based on how long they've been around.  I am in favor of the most recent compromised system proposed by Marc, as it removes the frustrating paralysis of not being able to find a teacher for abilities you really should be decent at and makes competency easier to acquire while still placing a real value on true mastery.
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Offline Justin Northwood

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #32 on: February 15, 2012, 04:12:05 pm »
...I'm not really in favor of systems where the STs need to make judgment calls on each Ability for each Character based on how long they've been around.

This very well sums up what I meant by "complicated."  Though the logic is simple, it necessitates staff interrogation of every Ability purchase ever that is post character-generation.  There is no good way to determine what was on the sheet to start vs. what was added organically over time, other than to carefully inspect the XP history detail for evidence of previous purchases (or lack thereof); else maintain a compendium of "starting sheets" to be referred back to for every Ability purchase.  Further still, transferred characters where whole portions of the XP history get lost in translation would be impossible to track, as would sheets where a previous staff failed to accurately detail all Ability purchases.  This would be a bear for the staff to manage, I can assure you. :)
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 04:12:18 pm by MarcBerm »
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Offline Justin Northwood

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #33 on: February 15, 2012, 07:09:56 pm »
I will add, on Dan's earlier point:

...So if a character begins learning after they are not limited to a year and a half of waiting, and one or two ranks on capped traits, waiting to pick up a new ability.

I think that if your character falls into any sort of wonky or extenuating circumstances (such as the above or any other), then you should absolutely bring the issue to the staff, who will decide whether or not to make an exception to the rules in your favor (that one time, for that one circumstance).

At a mechanical level, if not in spirit, the learning times are about minimum chronological separations between Ability levels.  I don't think it is unreasonable to ask the staff to make an exception, understanding that the answer could be no, and that you're going to have to be okay with that.

I don't think we need a rule stating that the above sort of thing is "staff approval," because you can ALWAYS ask the staff a question, rather than speculate about why you "probably shouldn't ask" or "already know they'll say no," etc, etc, etc.  What's important here is that there is NO rule stating "You can't ask for approval of something outside of these rules."  That would be a very terrible rule :P
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Offline Taweret

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #34 on: February 15, 2012, 07:20:14 pm »
They are not fond of exceptions.
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Offline Justin Northwood

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #35 on: February 15, 2012, 07:39:31 pm »
"Not fond of exceptions" is a little broad.  I think it depends on the situation and circumstances more than anything.  During my time as HST, I saw or served as final approval on many, many, many exceptions to the rules.  Yes, there are a few that I regret approving or not approving, people make mistakes.  Folks usually don't complain, or make a fuss, (or even advertise at all) when their exception request is approved.  But holy crap, do you ever hear about the "No's" over and over again in the rumor mill :)
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Offline Stephen King

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #36 on: February 15, 2012, 08:06:22 pm »
Matt has it pretty much on the head. The theory is sort of a graduate class for those who have hit the max month learning time and are starting on a new skill. Lets say a new type of perform or a new profession. Taking into account the years plus the character has spent on learning one craft, that degree of discipline and determination would carry over.
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Offline Michael Cirelli

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #37 on: February 16, 2012, 08:22:21 am »
"Not fond of exceptions" is a little broad.  I think it depends on the situation and circumstances more than anything. 

This is very very true
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Offline Mass Trauma NPC

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #38 on: February 16, 2012, 10:37:18 am »
There is no good way to determine what was on the sheet to start vs. what was added organically over time, other than to carefully inspect the XP history detail for evidence of previous purchases (or lack thereof); else maintain a compendium of "starting sheets" to be referred back to for every Ability purchase.

... Are you not already doing this to determine how long it's been since I last bought something?

Offline AndrewD

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #39 on: February 16, 2012, 10:50:30 am »
So a poll about this will go up later this week (probably tonight).
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Offline Justin Northwood

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #40 on: February 16, 2012, 06:37:32 pm »
There is no good way to determine what was on the sheet to start vs. what was added organically over time, other than to carefully inspect the XP history detail for evidence of previous purchases (or lack thereof); else maintain a compendium of "starting sheets" to be referred back to for every Ability purchase.

... Are you not already doing this to determine how long it's been since I last bought something?

I can only speak to how things went down while I was doing it, but yes, except that the process only involved opening the most current RTF, Edit>Find for the Ability name to make sure it's most recent appearance is at least X months ago, and was based on a single learning time.  The more variable learning times from "standard" that you add, the more cumbersome the system becomes.  I believe that the one variable (teacher or no teacher) is sufficient, and is better than what we have right now...  Again, you have to take into account that "ask the staff" is always an option, if you feel like your situation exists far enough outside the norm that it merits exception.  We don't really need a rule to tell us that, I hope.

Apparently a poll is coming, so we shall see :)

(( Disclaimer: As yet, I have had absolutely nothing to do with the poll, other than the discussion here.  Please don't construe my ideas from this topic as something that will necessarily be directly translated into a poll option. ))
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Offline Justin Northwood

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #41 on: May 02, 2012, 09:31:12 pm »
I find it interesting that in the vote (so far) people seem to be preferring the level=number of months option, as it includes nothing to fix the Teachers rules/guidelines.

The Teachers rules seemed to be a major limiting factor to many people in previous discussions.  What good is learning Abilities faster if you still struggle to find appropriate teachers (one level up on you for anything but a x5).

I like option 2, but then, it is exactly what I wrote :)

Just my two cents.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2012, 09:31:28 pm by MarcBerm »
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Offline Nike 'Slays the Patriarchy' Strilakos

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #42 on: May 02, 2012, 09:35:04 pm »
wait what?  the paragraphs  line up to make me believe that that Teacher option applied to both... that is certainly how I read it...
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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #43 on: May 02, 2012, 09:35:52 pm »
I misread that as well. I'm not sure how that affects my vote. :(
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Offline AndrewD

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Re: Ability Learning Times - A Discussion
« Reply #44 on: June 19, 2012, 09:34:41 am »
Something definitive will be up for vote/discussion following the next staff meeting, before game.
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