House rule articles contain a short intro, a rambling section on how to come up with a solution to a problem called “Cooking It up“, just the plain rules in a section called “The Finished Dish” and some musings about what else you could do with that in the final section: The Leftovers“.
For highly-skilled characters I’ve frequently run into the problem that I can’t really justify putting points in more than one technique apiece and often these are very powerful hard techniques like Feint or Dual-Weapon Attack. In 3rd Edition with its 8 points a level for DX-based skills above DX+1 it made much more sense to use techniques (then called manoeuvres). I feel that this led to more colourful characters. So how can we achieve the same thing in 4th Edition?
Cooking It up
There’s no reason to go back to 3rd Edition’s skill pricing. DX and IQ are already much more useful than buying more than three skills based on each up to above the attribute level. So, the techniques themselves need to become cheaper.
There’s also no reason not to include easy techniques alongside average and hard ones. These would be for things you really don’t want to spend a lot of points for, like the Impersonate technique (B233). There’s also room for very hard techniques. These could be used as a catch-all category for skills currently classed as hard that you might want to make more expensive, because they are a good idea under most circumstances (Dual-Weapon Attack, Feint and many cinematic techniques). This way easy techniques will be very different price-wise from their more heavy-hitting brethren.
While you’re at it, ignore the advice on B229 about selecting the difficulty level. The rules in Martial Arts for building your own techniques don’t use it either. Difficulty is based on how difficult something would be in real life, how large a part of the skill it helps with and how useful it is. Generally nothing that on its own allows you to pursue a decent career (e.g. Motion-Picture Camera for Photography) should be less than an average technique. On the other hand, many easy skills mostly have easy and average techniques.
For the actual pricing it’s good to consider half-points or – as an alternative for those not using these – skipping over certain levels.
The Finished Dish
To make some very specialised and/or not so useful applications of a skill easier, introduce easy and very hard techniques. Use half-points to give smoother progressions or skip over every second level for easy, average and very hard skills.
|Final Skill Level||Easy||Average||Hard||Very Hard|
Be sure to re-evaluate all existing techniques in your campaign. They might fit better in a neighbouring category with this scheme.
Ideally, I’d also post an adjusted technique listing for all the techniques found in Basic and Martial Arts, but I’m not sure whether it’s legal to list all techniques and I don’t have the time to go over each of them at the moment.
If you want to encourage techniques even more, consider giving a character a free point in a technique once they reach attribute level +1 in a skill.
The less coarse-grained technique difficulties also invite you to think about a way to redo optional specialisations as techniques. Instead of shifting down the difficulty of a skill if a character knows only one special subject, buy a lower level of the skill normally and buy up a technique for the character’s speciality. Base the difficulty on how large a subset and how useful the speciality is. Zoology is probably an very hard speciality technique of Biology, while Entomology might just be hard and the study of domestic cats might get away with being average.
Everything that uses techniques is also affected by these changes. I’m especially fond of the way they impact adjustable spells, which were really too pricey in most cases. You might think up a scheme that makes use of the different difficulty classes, too. Maybe reduced energy costs for higher difficulties.
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