FS3 3rd Edition Feedback


  • Coder

    I've been beta-testing some third edition changes to FS3 on a small sandbox game. The feedback so far has been good, but I wanted to open it up to a wider audience.

    Here's a summary of what's new in FS3 3rd Edition.

    • Ratings go from 1-5 instead of 1-12.
    • Attributes have been replaced by Aptitudes, which give you bonuses when rolling related skills.
    • Background Skills have been split into Expertise (for things you're good at) and Interests (for things you dabble in). Both are unrated, like Languages.
    • Advantages are new, to reflect special things the game wants you to spend points on, like powers or, well, advantages.
    • Quirks are gone, replaced by RP Hooks and Goals.
    • The dice have also undergone an overhaul, but it’s still fundamentally a roll-and-count-successes system.

    Read more here.

    I'm mostly interested in feedback on the changes that were added in 3rd edition, or things that maybe you wish had been added but weren't.

    For those who don't know, the "S3" stands for "Simple Skill System". It's designed to get you into RP with minimal hassle in Chargen and very minimal review time required from the app staff. So if you're looking for a complex system that accounts fur subtle variations among characters, this is not it!



  • You should change your name from @faraday to @ralphmacchio, because...


  • Coder

    @faraday Reminds me very much of Strands of Fate system in many ways (That's a hack of Fate book).


  • Coder

    @Lithium said:

    Reminds me very much of Strands of Fate system in many ways (That's a hack of Fate book).

    Never seen that one. But it's not too surprising. FS3 is kind of a mashup between FUDGE and Shadowrun4, and FATE (as I understand it) derived from FUDGE as well, so there are bound to be similarities.


  • Coder

    @ghost LOL thanks. :)



  • Any major differences in how this works in/with +combat versus the old system?


  • Coder

    @Three-Eyed-Crow said:

    Any major differences in how this works in/with +combat versus the old system?

    Little tweaks and a few features folks have been asking for (like having different armor ratings for different areas to reflect weak spots), but no fundamental differences.


  • Coder

    Awesome. I looove FS3. Thank you so much for creating and sharing it. I use it on two different games, tweaked in various ways by myself or other staffers. Couple of things:

    • I'm a fan of Quirks being thrown out, because we actually chucked Quirks on both games. (Sorry.)
    • I'm a big fan of them being thrown out in favor of RP Hooks and Goals because I literally just made a +job for myself yesterday to add that to the approval system on one of the games.
    • How are advantages dealt with in +rolls? Like action skills? They share the 1-5 rating but aren't mentioned under dice mechanics. Are they not meant to be rolled? You either have them to whatever level with whatever that means in the game in question, or you don't?
    • Do ruling attributes (aptitudes, in this case!) still figure in for action skillls, expertise and interests, or is it something that you would pick per +roll? It must still be in the system for +combat, yeah?
    • I'm curious why you dropped the rating scale / how this impacts XP & XP costs. I can see how it impacts the chargen costs, and that makes sense, but now it seems like XP can go a lot farther -- if it exists, and I'm not actually sure it does from your write up.

    FS3 has been very flexible and customizable in my experience. We've contorted it in some crazy ways, and there are a lot of customization options built-in, and we've made full use of them. Some of the things that I'd like to see are things I'm sure I could add myself if I weren't so lazy, but are more combat than chargen related:

    • Getting people to reset their armor and weapons every time we start a new combat scene is a minor pain, and having defaults set per player as something that players can change (and RP about changing) rather than gamewide defaults might simplify that.
    • An easy option to make +combat/mod and +combat/lethality transparent: I tweaked our system to do so (and it wasn't that bad, since you had a couple of nice and obvious functions for displaying results; they use fun_combat_msg instead of fun_org_msg now).
    • Maybe other things I'm blanking on right now but honestly it's been very easy to change / tweak / customize.

    One thing I foresee as a potential problem (for us, anyway, if we switched systems, and I can already imagine @Roz twitching at the idea) is the rate of diminishing returns at high numbers of dice making it difficult to create an NPC that is a real challenge for players. I'm still trying to find the right balance on this with the old version of FS3 that we're using. Rather than having mobs of a large number of NPCs that PCs have to fight, I've got a GMing hangup about wanting to see players combine and work together to take down the big (robotic) monster. Any thoughts?

    Thanks again! It's been a fantastic system.



  • @Tez said:

    One thing I foresee as a potential problem (for us, anyway, if we switched systems, and I can already imagine @Roz twitching at the idea) is the rate of diminishing returns at high numbers of dice making it difficult to create an NPC that is a real challenge for players. I'm still trying to find the right balance on this with the old version of FS3 that we're using.

    This has always been something I struggled with as well, even back in the BSG game dark ages. It was really easy to over-power PCs with mid-level stats without meaning to, but also tricky to set up a challenging NPC that both wouldn't get one-hit killed but also wasn't invincible.



  • One thing that I always run into with FS is that it suffers from the 'linear character generation, geometric progression' problem where having a stat of say, 5 in character generation, will cost 5 points while a stat at 1 will cost 1 point. In play raising a stat from 0 to 1 might cost 1xp while raising it from 4 to 5 might cost 5xp, leading to very strong (year+ of progression on many games) punishments for making a well rounded character instead of aiming to squeeze the 'best' possible degree of min maxing past whomever staff is.

    It seems that building in a more balanced advancement system from the start might work better than trying to hope staff on whichever game implement something, especially as it seems common for FS to be implemented by people without any real knowledge of how the numbers work or willingness to tweak them.


  • Coder

    @Tez said:

    • How are advantages dealt with in +rolls? Like action skills?

    Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, they're just like skills.

    • Do ruling attributes (aptitudes, in this case!) still figure in for action skillls, expertise and interests.

    Yes, the basic mechanics are the same. Staff sets a "related aptitude" for each action skill, you can custom-set one for each expertise/interest, and you can always override the default by specifying it in a roll (Creative+Firearms, for whatever weird reason).

    • I'm curious why you dropped the rating scale / how this impacts XP & XP costs.

    Conceptually FS3 always had 4 main skill brackets - novice, proficient, veteran, master. You could think of them almost like 4 skill levels. The in-between levels were just "fluff" to give folks some intermediate advancement steps.

    What I observed on countless FS3 games was that folks would agonize/argue over those intermediate steps - like whether someone should have a 4 or a 5 - when it didn't really matter.

    Likewise, several games seemed to be okay with the idea of restricting levels 1-3 (because they felt it sucked too much) and 9-12 (because they thought it was too overpowering). So instead of a 1-12 rating system, you ended up with a 4-8 rating system... not really what was intended.

    Simplifying/streamlining the ratings was intended to resolve these issues and just generally make the system easier to use and review.

    The XP works basically the same, but it's kinda like you're buying 2 levels at a time so the costs are higher. The intermediate levels are combined in one purchase.

    Some of the things that I'd like to see...

    I'll add the combat suggestions to the wish list, except for the idea of making lethality/mod things public. Those are meant as GM "hacks", as it were, to tune combat as befits the story. They're the equivalent of rolling behind the GM screen, so by their nature they're intended to be private.

    (dice) making it difficult to create an NPC that is a real challenge for players...

    @Three-Eyed-Crow said the same - This is really what those lethality/mod commands are for. By its simplistic nature, FS3 is not designed to accommodate ratings beyond the PC-equivalent range. But with creative use of armor, lethality and GM mods, you can usually do a pretty decent job at making things tougher for the PCs.

    I never advocate using it to gang up on players meanly or be underhanded, but sometimes it's more fun for everyone if you can tune things on the fly.

    Code should never replace story. Unless of course you want it to.


  • Coder

    @Packrat said:

    One thing that I always run into with FS is that it suffers from the 'linear character generation, geometric progression' problem where having a stat of say, 5 in character generation, will cost 5 points while a stat at 1 will cost 1 point.

    To quote a common software saying: "That's not a bug, that's a feature." :) Not to say anyone has to like it or agree with it, but it's designed that way quite on purpose.

    FS3 subscribes to a very simple philosophy that It takes a very long time to get really good at something. So if you want to be an expert in something, you need to start out as an expert rather than relying on XP to get you there during gameplay. (Edit to add: I also see no reason to penalize people in chargen for wanting to be experts by making them pay more. You're designing characters, not character sheets.)

    So it's not meant as a "punishment", it's just a consequence of a cardinal assumption in the system's design.

    Min/maxing in my experience is easily dealt with during chargen, especially with the new version of FS3 where you get up to 4 interest skills for free. Everyone can be well-rounded without sacrificing their action abilities.


  • Pitcrew

    The changes look interesting.
    While I have not played much on games using it I have always liked the system itself. If fact I was even tempted to use it for a table top I was contemplated but never got around to running that one.


  • Coder

    @faraday, are you still using regedit()? That is, can I try to port it to Mux again? I don't think we ever got past that one particular function.



  • @faraday said:

    Likewise, several games seemed to be okay with the idea of restricting levels 1-3 (because they felt it sucked too much) and 9-12 (because they thought it was too overpowering). So instead of a 1-12 rating system, you ended up with a 4-8 rating system... not really what was intended.

    This always annoyed me, though I suspect the same mindset will be there in 1-5 as well.


  • Coder

    @Thenomain said:

    @faraday, are you still using regedit()? That is, can I try to port it to Mux again? I don't think we ever got past that one particular function.

    I honestly haven't touched the code in years, so unless MUX has become more compatible in the meantime I imagine you'll run into the same issues.

    I'm no longer actively maintaining the softcode package (unless there's a critical bugfix); spending all my effort on AresMUSH these days.


  • TV & Movies

    @faraday said:

    @Packrat said:

    One thing that I always run into with FS is that it suffers from the 'linear character generation, geometric progression' problem where having a stat of say, 5 in character generation, will cost 5 points while a stat at 1 will cost 1 point.

    To quote a common software saying: "That's not a bug, that's a feature." :) Not to say anyone has to like it or agree with it, but it's designed that way quite on purpose.

    FS3 subscribes to a very simple philosophy that It takes a very long time to get really good at something. So if you want to be an expert in something, you need to start out as an expert rather than relying on XP to get you there during gameplay. (Edit to add: I also see no reason to penalize people in chargen for wanting to be experts by making them pay more. You're designing characters, not character sheets.)

    So it's not meant as a "punishment", it's just a consequence of a cardinal assumption in the system's design.

    Min/maxing in my experience is easily dealt with during chargen, especially with the new version of FS3 where you get up to 4 interest skills for free. Everyone can be well-rounded without sacrificing their action abilities.

    It baffles me that you think this is a good idea. Game designers are learning (slowly, kicking and screaming) not to do this, see the newer WoD.

    Making your chargens work this way punishes the people who min-max the least, and make the most well-rounded characters. You may be able to deal with extreme cases as staff, but it's still bad design.


  • Coder

    @bored said:

    Making your chargens work this way punishes the people who min-max the least, and make the most well-rounded characters. You may be able to deal with extreme cases as staff, but it's still bad design.

    Have you looked at the actual system, though? If you have, fair enough, otherwise I think you're comparing apples and oranges.

    Min/maxing usually happens when you don't have enough points to make the kind of character you want.

    Through generous point allocations, a minimal skill list, and giving a bunch of hobby/interest skills absolutely free of charge, there's ample opportunity for people to make skilled and well-rounded characters in chargen. It doesn't have to be a trade-off.



  • I will always advocate ether everyone having a pile of XP, and no CG points, or if you must have CG points, then XP costs working in a linear fashion. Sure, everyone CAN be well-rounded. Meaning it is within the realm of possibility. Just like it's within the realm of possibility that the Nigerian prince who sends out all those emails is legit royalty and will totally follow through on his promise to give you cashmoney. Neither of them are remotely probable. But it could happen.


  • Coder

    @Jennkryst Except for the fact that I've witnessed well-rounded, non-min-maxed characters on several games using this system. And it didn't even require them being smacked down by staff to do so. So I reject the idea that creating well-rounded characters is as improbable as the legendary Nigerian prince.

    If folks don't like it, they don't like it. No biggie. I hate D20 personally, but I know a lot of people enjoy it. Everyone has their own tastes.


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