This is Part IV of a 4-part series on combat skill caps, defense caps, and fixed feint/deceptive attack rules. Since I play a lot of DF, I thought it would be interesting to integrate these rules into DF templates.
Part III and Part III Adendum
Here are some ways to integrate skill limits - and required generalization - by template.
Why by template? Becuase templates come with a fair number of 0-point features centered around them. For example:
- Stat maxima
- Advantage maxima
- Advantage access
- Secondary Stats maxima (ST x 1.3 for HP, or ST x 1.5?)
So why not skill limits?
Limits By Template
It makes sense that certain templates are more specialized, and others more generalized.
Swashbucklers - limited to DX+15 in their main sword skill, or skill 30, whichever is lower.
Scouts - limited to DX+15 in Bow, or skill 30, whichever is lower.
Barbarians (all types), Barbarians, Martial Artists - limited to DX+10, or skill 25, whichever is lower.
Alternately, the cap can be identical for both, with an extra Unusual Background cost for purchasing additional levels: 4/level surcharge for non-Scouts and non-Swashbucklers, 2/level for Scouts and Swashbuckers. Those two templates, after all, are centered on mastery of a single weapon or like cluster of weapons. Point costs can be adjusted - tiers at 2, 5, 10, 15, and 20 points for levels 1-5 of Increased Skill Maximum, say, or 5/level . . . and just double it for non-swashbucklers. Or halve it, if you want a fairly mild discouragement for utter mastery.
Point Investment Cap
This approach requires a combatant to expand out his, her, or its combat skills beyond dumping a lot of points into one skill. This applies to PC templates and NPCs built off of templates, but not to anyone or anything else. This applies after character generation - you can violate this rule during character generation, but cannot then increase the violating skill until you've appropriately broadened out your base of training!
Swashbucklers, Scouts - points in any sword or knife or main-gauche skill cannot exceed more than 60% of all points in combat skills. Points in any other non-sword, non-Main Gauche/Knife combat skill cannot exceed 40% of all points in combat skills.
Knights, Barbarians, Martial Artists, Ninja, Assassin, Holy Warrior, Unholy Warrior, others - points in any combat skill cannot exceed more than 50% of points in all combat skills.
Round down - 55 points in skills means no more than 27 points in one skill at 50% (effectively 24), 33 points at 60% (which effectively means 32).
Combat skills are melee weapon skills, ranged weapon skills, and unarmed combat skills, as well as Strategy, Tactics, Fast-Draw, and Shield.
Skills are skills. For the love of all that is Dungeon Fantasy, please don't ask me if quirk points or advantages count, or argue that Weapon Master "should" could.
What happens if you have DX+X in a skill, and then raise DX from Y to Z and thus exceed the cap? One of a few things can happen - you get the points back towards DX. You simply lose the points. You keep the points in the skill, but the effective cap kicks in - useful if you ever lose the stat increase. You can retrieve the points either wholly or in part for some other use. You can roll them into a related skill that defaults from the one you bought. Pick one and stay consistent.
Should limits be different for different skills? I'd say no, with one caveat - you could put a cap on Primary skills of a template that is different from other skills. So the skills in your choosable packages have a cap of, say, DX+10, or cap at 50% of your combat skill points, but ones outside of it - Secondary or off-template skills - are limited to DX+5 or cap at 25% of your combat skill points. Otherwise . . . no. Skills have their own inherent upsides and downsides - flails are DX/H, for example, and clumsy and use crushing damage, but are hard to parry and block. Fencing skills get a +3 to parry on retreat, and with Weapon Master have a -1 per consecutive parry . . . but can't parry flails at all and are light and flimsy. Broadsword gives you nice weapons like the broadsword, bastard sword, and longsword, but have the standard +1 parry for Retreat and additional parries are at -4 (-2 with Weapon Master) instead of the sweet +3 and -1 for fencing weapons. And so on. All have tradeoffs already - they don't need preferential or limiting caps, except if you want to make them by template and around what the template allows.