Enforcing Training Rules Quickly and Fairly

I am one of those DM’s which just hate instant advancement. A character has no idea how to swim one day, and the next, he’s a master at it! Ridiculous, if you ask me. I hate to dwell on mechanics, or add rules that really aren’t needed, but if something bugs you bad enough, then I say that it is your responsibility to develop rules which will hopefully alleviate your problem, or study the core rules to find out if they don’t contain an optional rule, or sometimes you find out that the problem is with you and you’re just doing it wrong.

I don’t bother to hide my failings from you folks, and another one is about to be exposed, but I will let you know that I am working on it. TIME! Time is always an issue with me. Hey, I’m only human, and adult gaming is a lot different then back when we were young and working part-time at the Pump-N-Munch. The time spent gaming means more to adults then it does to younger folks. They get to explore different aspects of the game, which unfortunately, we don’t have time to delve into anymore as adults. I’d love to role-play every important decision which takes place in a characters life! Unfortunately, we can’t afford to delve to deep into it because we are restricted to a night or two per month.

I am a horrible keeper of time, at least in the sense that I’m meticulous about it. Every hour is accountable for, and this is a problem. Characters need time off to do stuff, handle the things that they are responsible for. Find adventure leads. I’m working on adding more time unaccountable for, entire days and weeks should go by where they have nothing to do and aren’t role-played. Fighters have to do their time in the army, Priests have to spend X amount of time meditating and preaching, etc. My games have a tendency to flow too smoothly, leaving no down time for the characters to expand their horizons or work on personal goals because they are always kept busy completing group goals.

Today, we are going to talk about one of the best methods of adding this down-time to the characters lives. TRAINING! Now before you wander off, grumbling that I’m wasting your time with some archaic rules you don’t need, give me some time to explain myself.

Some of this stuff will work in the players favor, while others will work against it. I am blending core rules, with just a pinch of house. I assure you that this method is fast and easy, something which is required to get me to actually apply it to the table. If a system is too clunky or time-consuming, then I just don’t use it, so give me some credit here.

With that out of the way, lets just jump right into my house rule in regards to training.

BONUS NON-WEAPON PROFICIENCIES

On this matter, I am extremely giving. This is not core, but it does make sense if used judiciously. The deal is, that most of the time, additional NWP slots are earned by gaining a level, but some time this just makes no sense. Some NWP are tasks that everybody can do, but it signifies mastery, like horse riding. Everybody can hop on a horse and make it go, but not everybody can do the things which the horseback riding NWP can give you, however, if you spend long enough time with a horse, eventually you are going to acquire the skills and trust in yourself to push the limits of what you can do. In effect, you are teaching yourself Land Based Riding with a horse. If you spend 6 months on a horse, this NWP could be earned automatically, spending 0 slots on it, it just kind of happens.

Of course, there are few skills which you can teach yourself simply by doing it badly. If one tries to teach one’s self mountaineering, for example, then your just insane! However, what if you are spending a few months in the mountains with an experienced guide who uses his mountaineering skills on a daily basis? Just by watching him and helping him you should be picking up on this stuff. I think that a check is in order to see if you picked this skill or not, and again, it should be free. Not all experiences tallied up with XP, some should show immediate results . . . or at least more immediate then having to wait until you can gain another NWP slot, which can take months or even years of game time.

Another reason to add bonus NWP slots to the game is in regards to long voyages or spending time away from actually adventuring. Say you hire a captain to charter you to some distant land, we are talking about weeks of nothing to do! Why not spend that time helping the other sailors with their duties? There is no such thing as a pleasure cruise, all hands are expected to help keep the ship afloat, even if it is just scrubbing the deck or doing dishes, you are still expected to help. Why not spend that time trying to learn Seamanship, or rope use? I think that given the amount of time and the availability of proper teachers, a player should be able to pick up on this stuff eventually, and earn a bonus NWP.

Granted, we don’t want to abuse this, god forbid that some player gets a hankering that he is going to learn every NWP skill in the book! We don’t want to unbalance the game, but from time to time, I don’t consider this to be unreasonable.

STANDARD NWP TRAINING

With my house rule explained, we can now get back into the optional core rules of Training. This is more advanced stuff then what I normally discuss. If you are still a novice or aren’t ready to even ponder this as an option yet, then don’t use it! It is just a rule base to make the game more difficult, and if you think that the game is challenging enough as it is, then by all means, keep playing it the way that you are.

I suppose that this also applies to Weapon Prof. to. I don’t think that you should be able to become proficient in a weapon that you’ve never used, or (in some games) never even seen before. Depending on the specifics, a character might have access to the weapon from a trainer, for instance, during the leveling up training session, the fighter can chose to be taught the proper methods of fighting with a spear. Or, alternatively, if he is out on the road and away from home, he can purchase a spear and carry it with him, spending some time every day using it, and also fighting with it in situations were he judges that he can get away with the penalty for fighting with a weapon he isn’t proficient in, then, when he has earned an additional weapon slot, he can just write it in automatically.

None-Weapon Proficiencies are different though. A few can come from studying under a master, but again, you have to decide how you are going to manage the leveling up process.

Low levels are acquired pretty quickly, and under some circumstances, the character may not require any “formal” training. In particular, gaining a level that simply raises one’s hit points and THAC0. In cases like that, simply talking about your deeds, or listening to somebody talk about how awesome you are will be enough to satisfy the requirements for gaining a level, but when you receive more then just basic THAC0 and hit points, then you require a bit more. In a nut shell, you need to find somebody of the proper level who can teach you.

Sometimes, if you are in the proper guild, this training is easy to afford and come by, while other classes are much lonelier, such as the Mage class where you are generally required to teach yourself everything. Even for mages, though, they still have to seek guidance to further their education. Not many skills can be accrued by trial and error, for cases like this, then you must find somebody who has the skill and is willing to teach it to you, usually for a price.

Of course this applies to all classes, not just wizards. NWP should cost 100gp per the NPC’s level to learn, but even a 0th level NPC will charge at least a hundred gold. Most will try to charge more, and the number above should be the bare minimum. After all, the NPC is taking the time out of his productive schedule to teach you the skill. His kindness should be compensated.

Now, this can be separate from, or included in the cost of gaining a level. Professional training should cost 100gp per level gained. I.E. a 7th level fighter must find another fighter who is at least 8th level before leveling up himself to 8th, and he’ll be charged at least 800gp and require 8 weeks of training to level up and begin to collect XP again.

Of course this does run into some serious problems. What if you are underground, hacking and slashing your way through some bloody dungeon crawl when you become 8th level? Should the character be forced to surface, go back to town and retrain, giving the mosters more time to refortify their defenses? Maybe! Or maybe not, depending on how you look at it. Because he is engaged in so much fighting and actually using the skills that he’s learned the growth could be automatically apparent, but I wouldn’t give him any proficiencies until he has surfaced, or learned the skill from another character. I don’t think that he should lose them either. I find that rule to be bogus and don’t see the logic in it being there. A character should never be punished by the actions of the DM, and him being stuck in some stinking hole in the ground when he levels up is the fault of the DM.

If the player is using the Carrying in method, or has purchased a book which is about the NWP or weapon prof. then he should gain it at that time. Of course the book will cost money, folks forget that the printing press hasn’t been introduced yet, nor has the type-writer. Books were all printed by hand, thus they aren’t within the means of the average person to own them.

METHOD OF GAINING PROFICIENCIES

The exact way that this is handled, is similar to spell craft. Highering level up training is always preferred over finding a specific teacher, but some proficiencies can only be learned in this way.

Once the teacher is found, we first have to figure out how good of a teacher they are. Of course, there are no rules which say that a PC can’t teach another PC a skill that he knows, and charge whatever amount that he sees fit. This is easily handled too!

If the teacher is an NPC then we can just assume that he makes all of his teaching checks, and it goes back to the PC student. He rolls against his INT or WIS score, whichever one is higher, and if he passes it, then the skill is learned. If not, then he requires more time to learn the skill and will loose and additional week, and must pay the teacher an additional 100 gp for that week and for each additional week until either he passes the check or he simply gives it up. For each additional week spent in training, he will gain a +1 modifier to his ability check, making it easier and easier for him to learn the skill. Note that this modifier isn’t permanent nor is it ever reflected on the Character Sheet. It is only used for the purposes of learning the skill. Just thought that I’d point that out, because we don’t need no idiots thinking that they can get a wisdom score of 20 by failing to learn skills.

Player character teachers are handled a bit more differently. First we have to determine how knowledgeable he really is on the subject, he has to make a successful WIS check. Then, we have to see how good he is at conveying the proper teachings in a way that the information is usable by others, we check this by making a successful CHA score.

The above method, can in some instances, be forgotten completely at the DM’s judgment of the character’s character. If the character is always played as being helpful and well-spoken, then the success could be automatic. On the same token, if the character is played as a lone-wolf who is anti-social, the failure can be determined as unavoidable.

If both of these rolls are successful, then the player has properly taught the student the skill, but if only 1 role was successful, the player has failed. If both roles are unsuccessful then he is never fit to teach that specific skill to anybody, ever.

We also have to determine the length of the class, and how much time is required for the teacher to teach the student the proper methods. We arrive at this number by subtracting the characters wisdom score from 19. The number we get will be the number of days required to instruct on the topic. Of course, if we don’t know the characters wisdom score, then just assume that training will take about a week.

REHASH

  • Bonus proficiencies can be given if three weeks are dedicated to it, and only given by the DM.
  • Weapons or books carried for 1 whole level are learned upon advancement.
  • PC teachers must make both a Wisdom check and a Charisma check in order to teach other PC.
  • Times are learned by subtracting WIS score from 19= number of days.
  • Characters must pass either a WIS check or an INT check (which ever is highest) to learn new skill.
  • Characters get a +1 bonus to learn skill for each failed ability check.
  • Cost is dictated by 100gp x teacher’s level with a minimum of 100gp.
  • The cost of leveling up is 100gp per level gained and may or may not include proficiencies.
  • A Fighter can avoid this charge if the level is a minor one, i.e.: only THAC0 and hp total goes up.
  • A wizard does not pay to level up, but must pay for all proficiencies earned.
  • Unused proficiencies beyond 1st level can be saved until the player gets some time and the money required to fill them.
  • Clerics, Thieves, and most fighters receive no XP until they pay for the training to level up.
  • Level-up training takes 1 week per level earned.

ART BY: Jeff Easley

1 comments:

kaeosdad said...

Great post! As usual it always gets me thinking about yet another add on for 4e. Last session we were talking about all the things everybody wished were in the new edition. I realized that the main reason I like 4e is the combat system. I dislike skill challenges, rituals, the way the economy works, magic items and point buy stats. But the combat system kicks ass and is the main reason I am just adapting all the things from the older editions that is missing in 4e.

I like the mentor thing between pcs and how if a player uses a weapon for a whole level they could gain a proficiency with the weapon.

I also like the whole idea of being able to become proficient with a skill just by using it.

I've got a pile a whole pile of notes, scratch paper and drawings next to my desk that needs to get organized and digitized sometime soon.

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