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  1. #1
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    Ok, I think we`ve gotten a bit off-track with our discussions of the
    bloodline system. A lot of options have been put forward, such as ECL for
    bloodlines, a scion class, a scion template, and a bloodline "race"
    progression ala Savage Species.

    I think, however, in debating the merits and flaws of these various
    approaches, we`ve lost sight of the original reason(s) behind revising the
    2e system. If we can come to a clear agreement on the WHY, we should be
    able to easily come up with the HOW.

    To begin: What is wrong with the 2e system of bloodlines? WHY do we want to
    change it?

    The 2e system is completely independent of "2e mechanics"; that is, it
    doesn`t depend on input from your race, class, etc to work. You simply take
    a d100, and consult the charts in the book, rolling dice where it tells
    you. In theory you could take the bloodline generation system and apply it
    to any RPG; the only thing you`d have to change is the effects of the blood
    powers to sync with the new system (a +1 to hit in 2e would become a +1 to
    potence or whatever in Vampire.. but the generation would be the same, a
    Tremere vampire still rolls d100 to determine his bloodline strength, then
    rolls for derivation and score). I personally like the system, but my
    understanding is that there are 2 major problems:

    1. Randomness. A lot of DMs and players don`t like the fact that a single
    d100 roll can make or break your character. A player that rolls a 96 is
    going to have a huge advantage over his guilder rival who rolled a 07.

    In my experience the randomness issue is easily dealt with. I simply use DM
    fiat to help out players who got bad rolls; but I understand that this is
    not a method we can use as a standard. However, a point-buy of some sort is
    the best way to approach the problem of randomness. I believe this is where
    the "bloodline as a 7th ability score" concept came from.

    In the end I don`t think randomness is a big problem; we`ll be able to
    develop some sort of system that works without randomness, and publish that
    along with a random system for those that like it. Kind of like how the 3e
    PHB says you can roll 4d6 6 for stats OR use a point buy. We can continue
    to debate the mechanics, but conceptually, this is not an issue.

    2. Balance. This is the kicker that a lot of people have problems with, and
    the reason is because there are at least 2 major philosophical viewpoints
    here. One is that scions are inherently stronger than commoners, and that
    is the entire premise of the BR setting, and that the rules should reflect
    this (this is the viewpoint to which I subscribe). The other major
    viewpoint is that players should have the choice to be a scion or a
    commoner and not be penalized for either choice. That is, scions and
    commoners should be relatively equal.

    The problem lies in that the 2e rules were not clear about which path the
    developers favored. Commoners did get SOMETHING, namely a 10% xp bonus.
    However those in favor of the first viewpoint will argue (as I have) that a
    10% xp bonus doesn`t even come close to the benefits of a bloodline.

    The issue of balance lies at the heart of the debate about ECLs and
    classes. Until we as a group can decide which approach to take, we will not
    make a lot of constructive progress on the issue.

    At this point I`d like to go on and add my thoughts about the system, as it
    works now.

    I believe that the 7th "ability score" for bloodline is simply bizarre,
    mainly because of semantics. D&D is full of "scores"; your HP, AC, movement
    rate and saving throws are all represented by numbers. What is the
    difference between a normal "score" and an "ability score", like the
    bloodline? When I think ability score, I think of Str, Dex, etc. Can a
    bloodline be improved by +1 every 4 levels? If no, then a bloodline is NOT,
    strictly speaking, an ability score.

    The reason for the "7th ability score" comes from the point buy system,
    where the BRCS team wanted you to sacrifice points on strength, dex, etc,
    to have a strong bloodline (I think).

    I think, with all due respect to the BRCS team, this is a very bad way to
    handle it. IMO bloodline should be a score, just like it was in 2e,
    completely independent of the core of your character. If you want to use a
    point buy for it, fine; use a 32 point buy (or whatever) to determine
    ability scores, and use a separate point buy for bloodline (we would make a
    new system of tables with costs of abilities and the like; the DM would
    choose the number of points blooded PCs would have to use within the
    system). This way bloodline is not an "ability score"; it is a separate
    score all on its own like movement rate or gold pieces.

    Now on to balance.

    There are 2 issues of balance to consider: the balance of scions vs
    commoners, and the balance of bloodlines factoring into CRs.

    1. I don`t think that scions and commoners need to be balanced. They
    weren`t balanced in 2e and IMO don`t need to be in BR3e, because scions
    (again IMO) are the focus of the setting. That said, commoners should get
    something for not being blooded, OR scions should lose something. ECL is
    one way to do it; bloodline as a 7th ability score is another way,
    requiring you to sacrifice Str/Dex/etc for a bloodline. A feat/skill system
    where you have to spend your levelgain feats is a third way; a scion PrC is
    a fourth.

    I like none of these methods. I feel the cost to be blooded is too high
    with all of the aforementioned approaches. I think the best approach here
    is to compare each blood ability to an approximate magical item, and derive
    the XP cost from that. In order to use the blood ability you have to pay
    the XP cost (one-time only) first. That way a scion will be slightly behind
    a commoner in experience, just like in 2nd edition.

    2. The issue of bloodlines vs CRs in Cerilia also needs to consider the
    following fact: your average level when considering Challenge Ratings also
    includes the amount of magical items a character of your level is expected
    to have in a `default` setting. Are any of us seriously advocating that BR
    characters should have as much treasure as the DMG recommends? I certainly
    am not. Because of the scarcity of magic items, the CR system is already
    going to be out of whack in Cerilia. We`re not seriously considering ECL
    reductions because of a lack of magic items; why should we consider
    increases because of bloodlines? To some extent the addition of bloodlines
    will mitigate the impact of a lack of magical items.

    I`d prefer to just call them even, and leave the CR system unchanged. An
    intelligent DM (and almost all DMs are intelligent) will be able to make
    adjustments on the fly, based on his knowledge and common sense.

    I`ve attempted to summarize the current debate regarding bloodlines. I
    don`t think I`ve left anything out, but if I have, my apologies.

    So, thoughts?

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  2. #2
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 05:23 PM 3/15/2003 -0600, Lord Shade wrote:

    >To begin: What is wrong with the 2e system of bloodlines? WHY do we want to
    >change it?

    I think there are really only two general reasons.

    First, some things have to change in a conversion. Many of the blood
    abilities are based on spells, spell-like abilities or character class
    abilities that have changed from 2e to D20, so the descriptions of those
    things need to be changed. There`s a skill system that many blood
    abilities might take advantage of, a system of feats that could be
    incorporated, prestige classes, etc. Many of the game mechanics have
    progressed and several aspects of the concept of bloodline need to move
    along with it.

    Second, because some of the original rules were broken or not particularly
    well defined. Where possible those things should be fixed in the same way
    that various character classes changed from 2e to 3e.

    >2. Balance. This is the kicker that a lot of people have problems with, and
    >the reason is because there are at least 2 major philosophical viewpoints
    >here. One is that scions are inherently stronger than commoners, and that
    >is the entire premise of the BR setting, and that the rules should reflect
    >this (this is the viewpoint to which I subscribe). The other major
    >viewpoint is that players should have the choice to be a scion or a
    >commoner and not be penalized for either choice. That is, scions and
    >commoners should be relatively equal.

    If I might qualify that a bit... I don`t think anyone is saying that scions
    and commoners should be relatively equal. They are saying (or, at least, I
    am) that _given equal character levels_ commoners and scions should be
    equal. The ECL for a scion should be equal to character levels, just as
    the ECL for templates or other character features are (supposed) to be. A
    10th level fighter should be equal in power to a 8th level fighter with a
    +2 ECL from bloodline.

    Making scion features more powerful than character levels and then not
    assigning an ECL is counterintuitive to a D20 conversion. Aside from
    issues of individual character balance, it throws off things like the way
    the DM designs encounters per the DMG`s guidelines, and the bonuses from CR
    awards since characters with powers that are unaccounted for by ECL will
    gain the same XP as characters who lack those features, but will presumably
    not expend the same amount of resources.

    There are other things thrown out of whack by not accounting for the powers
    gained along with a bloodline using ECL. Things like the gp value of his
    inventory. Not counting ECL effects also doesn`t always work in favor of
    the character either. Let`s say, for example, that one was playing a 5th
    level character who had enough effects from bloodline to count as +2
    ECL. If one accounts for those modifiers then his leadership score for the
    purpose of the leadership feat would be 7 + his charisma modifier rather
    than 5 + charisma modifier. Also, his cohorts can be 6th level rather than
    4th. For the purpose of actually describing the leadership qualities of a
    blooded character--pretty important to such a character--ECL is as
    important as actual character levels.

    >I believe that the 7th "ability score" for bloodline is simply bizarre,
    >mainly because of semantics. [Snip the semantics]
    >I think, with all due respect to the BRCS team, this is a very bad way to
    >handle it.

    I agree with you on that one. I don`t like bloodline as an ability score
    much at all. It has, however, been the most common one since 3e came out
    and it appeared in Doom`s original conversion, so I think a lot of people
    have gotten used to it. When it gets right down to it, I suppose, any
    alternative system really needs to be written up in at least as complete a
    format in order to be legitimately presented as another option.... I`ve
    posted two variants that I think make at least as much or more sense than
    bloodline as an ability score (bloodline as a character class and a
    bloodline system that is essentially an upgrade of the 2e system) but those
    are, after all, only posts not a complete system, and because they are
    incomplete it`s difficult for people to get a complete handle on them.

    >IMO bloodline should be a score, just like it was in 2e, completely
    >independent of the core of your character. If you want to use a point buy
    >for it, fine; use a 32 point buy (or whatever) to determine ability
    >scores, and use a separate point buy for bloodline (we would make a new
    >system of tables with costs of abilities and the like; the DM would choose
    >the number of points blooded PCs would have to use within the system).
    >This way bloodline is not an "ability score"; it is a separate score all
    >on its own like movement rate or gold pieces.

    Have you seen the stuff I posted about "2e bloodline in 3e style"?

    Gary

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  3. #3
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    Wow. This is amazing.

    For the first time since coming on this board, I agree with EVERYTHING you said in your post, geeman.

    The simple fact of the matter is that bloodline needs to be incorporated in a way that it feels like a part of the d20 System, not a separate system that gets tacked on. And the easiest way for it to do that is to mesh in with the existing tools in the system, namely skills, feats, and spells.

    To balance with the system as it is built, bloodline should not just grant scions special powers with no kind of trade-off for commoners. It should, however, open up many more OPTIONS to the scions.

    For example, certain spells could be "Wiz/Sor 3, Bloodline (Masela)" which only a scion of Masela could have... or just "Wiz/Sor 3, Bloodline" for any scion of the appropriate class to be able to attain.

    But, as I was saying, I agree fully with geeman. The big changes in the system from 2nd Edition to 3rd Edition call for big changes in the Bloodline system, since it was built on 2nd Edition mechanics.

    One example I want to note is from the Forgotten Realms. In 2nd Edition, noble-born drow gained extra special abilities for free, and in 3rd Edition, those abilities must be purchased with feats. I'm not saying this is the exact method that should be used, but it gives you an idea of how the official designers took a look at a 2nd Edition mechanic and made it work (and well) in 3rd Edition.
    I walk this fine thread...

    Mourn

  4. #4
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Sat, 15 Mar 2003, Lord Shade wrote:

    > To begin: What is wrong with the 2e system of bloodlines?
    > WHY do we want to change it?

    Yes, this is exactly the way the discussion should be approached.

    > In theory you could take the bloodline generation system and apply it
    > to any RPG; the only thing you`d have to change is the effects of the
    > blood powers to sync with the new system (a +1 to hit in 2e would
    > become a +1 to potence or whatever in Vampire.. but the generation
    > would be the same, a Tremere vampire still rolls d100 to determine his
    > bloodline strength, then rolls for derivation and score).

    Again, exactly right. For example, Alertness`s "surprised only on a roll
    of 1" no longer has a precise meaning in 3e mechanics, so it would have to
    be changed to some set of skill bonuses.

    > 1. Randomness. A lot of DMs and players don`t like the fact that a single
    > d100 roll can make or break your character. A player that rolls a 96 is
    > going to have a huge advantage over his guilder rival who rolled a 07.

    This is still my only problem with it.

    > However, a point-buy of some sort is the best way to approach the
    > problem of randomness. I believe this is where the "bloodline as a 7th
    > ability score" concept came from.

    Yes. But exactly what else to put in the pool with the bloodline score is
    unclear. Even if bloodline score is to be balanced only against the six
    abilities, I still see no need to rescale the numbers to fit the same 3-18
    standard scale as the others. Keep the score meaning exactly as-is, but
    say "one stat point buys six points of bloodline" or whatever.

    > I believe that the 7th "ability score" for bloodline is simply
    > bizarre, mainly because of semantics. D&D is full of "scores"; your
    > HP, AC, movement rate and saving throws are all represented by
    > numbers. [snip] This way bloodline is not an "ability score"; it is a
    > separate score all on its own like movement rate or gold pieces.

    Yes, exactly. Bloodline has its own inherent scale, which should not be
    changed. To return to your earlier example, your Vampire character still
    has all its other scores in the 1-5 White Wolf System, but a BR bloodline
    of Brenna, Major, 47 -- because that is the kind of score which is
    necessary to interact with the domain system.

    > I like none of these methods. I feel the cost to be blooded is too
    > high with all of the aforementioned approaches.

    Again, you speak my mind word for word.

    > I think the best approach here is to compare each blood ability to an
    > approximate magical item, and derive the XP cost from that. In order
    > to use the blood ability you have to pay the XP cost (one-time only)
    > first. That way a scion will be slightly behind a commoner in
    > experience, just like in 2nd edition.

    This is certainly a less bad approach than any of the others, even if you
    double the cost for the "doesn`t take up a slot" power.

    > Because of the scarcity of magic items, the CR system is already going
    > to be out of whack in Cerilia.

    Agreed.

    > We`re not seriously considering ECL reductions because of a lack of
    > magic items;

    Except that some of us are, as with Falcon`s averaging suggestion which
    Gary just mentioned again.


    Ryan Caveney

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  5. #5
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    On Sat, 15 Mar 2003, Gary wrote:
    > >I believe that the 7th "ability score" for bloodline is simply bizarre,
    > >mainly because of semantics. [Snip the semantics]
    > >I think, with all due respect to the BRCS team, this is a very bad way to
    > >handle it.
    >
    > I agree with you on that one. I don`t like bloodline as an ability score
    > much at all. It has, however, been the most common one since 3e came out
    > and it appeared in Doom`s original conversion, so I think a lot of people
    > have gotten used to it.

    I very much doubt it. It has been the most loudly and shamelessly
    self-promoted, and it was maneuvered into the BRCS doc the same way, but I
    bet a lot of people just used the old tack-on system on top of 3e
    characters. I actually very much dislike that the `7 ability score`
    system got shoved in just because it was in PDF when the rest of us were
    publishing conversion stuff in html and email.
    --
    Communication is possible only between equals.
    Daniel McSorley- mcsorley@cis.ohio-state.edu

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  6. #6
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Sat, 15 Mar 2003, Gary wrote:

    > Second, because some of the original rules were broken or not
    > particularly well defined.

    To speak only about second edition in its own terms, exactly which ones do
    you have in mind, and how would you suggest they be repaired or redefined
    within the context of second edition only? This is much more important to
    me than converting to 3e or any other RPG system.

    > The ECL for a scion should be equal to character levels, just as the
    > ECL for templates or other character features are (supposed) to be.
    > A 10th level fighter should be equal in power to a 8th level fighter
    > with a +2 ECL from bloodline.

    Only if you first include ability scores and actual magic item inventories
    first. Ftr 8 w/ Str and Con 18 vs. Ftr 10 w/ Str and Con 12 is a much
    bigger power difference than Ftr 8 with Blood History, Detect Lie and
    Persuasion vs. a Ftr 10. Until you`ve corrected balance for standard
    ability scores, I don`t think there`s much point in trying to balance
    blood powers.


    Ryan Caveney

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  7. #7
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    From: "Ryan B. Caveney" <ryanb@CYBERCOM.NET>

    > Even if bloodline score is to be balanced only against the six
    > abilities, I still see no need to rescale the numbers to fit the same 3-18
    > standard scale as the others. Keep the score meaning exactly as-is, but
    > say "one stat point buys six points of bloodline" or whatever.
    >

    This is the way I`ve been playing it for years - one character generation
    point gives you 2.5 points of bloodline strength. People started in the
    15-50 range. Yes, I gave them a LOT of points.

    This has worked extremely well. As I`ve said before, my only issue is that
    certain blood abilities (those that grant special powers rather than buff
    some other skill/attribute), should have scaled more over levels.

    /Carl

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  8. #8
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 01:14 AM 3/16/2003 -0500, Ryan Caveney wrote:

    > > Second, because some of the original rules were broken or not
    > > particularly well defined.
    >
    >To speak only about second edition in its own terms, exactly which ones do
    >you have in mind, and how would you suggest they be repaired or redefined
    >within the context of second edition only? This is much more important to
    >me than converting to 3e or any other RPG system.

    Hm. I don`t know if I had any particular ones in mind.... Since bloodline
    was the topic that inspired this thread, though, I think that`d probably be
    the one that is the most obvious. Particularly things like Table 12: Blood
    Ability Acquisition on p22 of the RB. That structure and progression of
    that table has always mystified me. Many of the issues regarding blood
    abilities were addressed in the BR playtest draft, so I won`t recount them
    all, but in several cases blood abilities have strangely nebulous effects
    with no real game mechanical description, when the could be used to express
    a very wide range of things. I`m thinking in particular of Blood History,
    which from I can tell could give the effects of a vast number of intellect
    based skill ranks. Character Reading also is a rather vaguely written and
    poorly implemented 2e blood ability.

    Other issues include things like bloodtheft. In all honesty, I`ve been
    reading posts on the subject for years and I have yet to find a system of
    doing bloodtheft that I thought really worked. It`s a great concept, but
    very difficult to do in D&D terms. It may not be possible to come up with
    a system that is really going to satisfy everyone on this one, so it may
    not really qualify as a 2e to 3e issue, but it is something that I`d love
    to see handled in a 3e conversion no matter how unreasonable that
    expectation is, and no matter how miraculous that treatment might have to
    be....

    Another issue that I`d like to see better developed is the monetary system
    at the domain level. I know, I know, this is another highly discussed
    topic, and positions seem to vary pretty widely, but 4GB=8,000gp=1 unit of
    elite infantry and the 80GB castle(10) just don`t add up well without some
    pretty funky rationalization. 8,000 gp is less than the inventory of a
    standard D&D 5th level PC.

    Large scale combat is probably something that could also be endlessly
    refined, and I`d like to see a substantially more developed system. By and
    large the D20 BR text does expand very well on the warcard (pthoo!) system,
    but they retained a few things that I don`t much care for--like the 3x5
    battlefield map.

    I`m sure there are other things that would qualify as issues that could be
    clarified or fixed in the original 2e materials.

    > > The ECL for a scion should be equal to character levels, just as the
    > > ECL for templates or other character features are (supposed) to be.
    > > A 10th level fighter should be equal in power to a 8th level fighter
    > > with a +2 ECL from bloodline.
    >
    >Only if you first include ability scores and actual magic item inventories
    >first. Ftr 8 w/ Str and Con 18 vs. Ftr 10 w/ Str and Con 12 is a much
    >bigger power difference than Ftr 8 with Blood History, Detect Lie and
    >Persuasion vs. a Ftr 10. Until you`ve corrected balance for standard
    >ability scores, I don`t think there`s much point in trying to balance
    >blood powers.

    OK, sure. "All other things being equal" characters with equal character
    levels should also be equal in power.

    Gary

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  9. #9
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Ryan B. Caveney" <ryanb@CYBERCOM.NET>
    Sent: Sunday, March 16, 2003 12:14 AM


    > Ftr 8 w/ Str and Con 18 vs. Ftr 10 w/ Str and Con 12 is a much
    > bigger power difference than Ftr 8 with Blood History, Detect Lie and
    > Persuasion vs. a Ftr 10.

    It really depends on who that F8 with Detect Lie is, or what his Blood
    History is telling him. I have found that rulers with Detect Lie have a
    huge advantage, because there is such an incentive to lie to them, either
    for self-advantage, malice, or actual treason. A ruler with Detect Lie who
    knows how to ask questions knows the worth of all of his courtiers,
    lieutenants, cohorts, vassals, and the various vistors and envoys to his
    court. As for Blood History, when a ruler sits on the same throne as his
    ancestors, their experience can add to his wisdom in matters of state.

    > Until you`ve corrected balance for standard ability scores, I don`t
    > think there`s much point in trying to balance blood powers.

    Using a point buy system fixes that. Everyone gets the same number of
    points and spends them in the way they think they`ll get the greatest
    utility from them.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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  10. #10
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Sun, 16 Mar 2003, Kenneth Gauck wrote:

    > I have found that rulers with Detect Lie have a huge advantage,
    > because there is such an incentive to lie to them, either for
    > self-advantage, malice, or actual treason.

    Well, sure. But then, being able to discern falsehoods in the speech of
    one person per day for only ten minutes at a time is casting a net with
    extremely large holes. The mere threat of its use will keep people on
    their toes, but many gambles to avoid it will succeed. Then there are
    magic items: it`s completely defeated by a Ring of Mind Shielding, which
    in vanilla 3e could be standard equipment for every courtier of 5th level
    or above -- or a Philter of Glibness, 500 gp for one hour-long meeting
    with the regent in which you know no one can spot you lie. Blood
    abilities are no more useful than magic items, so they should have costs
    appropriate to magic items -- in other words, much much less than an ECL.
    Even seemingly gross powers like Major Resistance to Nonmagical Attacks,
    Great (from Blood Enemies) are revealed as not all that interesting when
    you realize that Protection from Arrows is now just a 2nd-level spell.

    Yes, in a world where magic items are very rare, blood abilities are
    better than no magic at all, but wherever magic items and actual spells
    exist they are generally more powerful than the equivalent blood
    abilities, often simply because they are more readily accessible (e.g.,
    several times per day vs. once per week). Even Elemental Control, Touch
    of Decay and Travel, though very powerful at low levels, should stop
    giving any ECL modifier at all once characters reach about 9th-11th level.

    > As for Blood History, when a ruler sits on the same throne as his
    > ancestors, their experience can add to his wisdom in matters of state.

    Yes indeed. But it`s of little use in melee combat with a creature never
    seen in this area before. To my mind, any use of the ECL modifier has to
    be totally situational: if the power doesn`t ever come into use in an
    encounter, then it shouldn`t have any effect on determining the XP awards
    from that encounter. It means that a particular mix of blood abilities
    should really say something like "+2 ECL for negotiation only" or "+1 ECL
    for wilderness survival and +3 for personal combat". No single number can
    express the true effective challenge of different types of encounters to
    characters with very different design styles and specializations.

    > Using a point buy system fixes that. Everyone gets the same number of
    > points and spends them in the way they think they`ll get the greatest
    > utility from them.

    But this fairness breaks down as soon as you start calculating ECLs. If
    one player buys Str, Dex and Con while another buys bloodline, and you
    only assign an ECL to the second one, that`s completely unfair and really
    nothing more than an admission that the point values in the buying system
    are wrong and you don`t feel like correcting them.


    Ryan Caveney

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