I've been examining how in different situations you want different
methods for resolving character actions – in some cases it should be swingy
results (e.g. attacks in combat), some cases bounded results (e.g.
climbing), some cases predictable results (playing the lute). The final case on
my list is "Character is seeing how their body performs, without any external
interference whatsoever".
The canonical example is running – as a runner I know that all races are really against yourself, it is how you perform on the day. I also know that the variation between my time on a good day and on a bad day is very small in comparison to the overall time. A 5% slowdown is awful, and 10% would be an abysmal performance. There might be more variation in the distances and heights you can jump, but it is a similar situation, as is the amount of weight you can lift. These are all skills where your ability should be “you can run *this* fast, you can jump *this* far and *this* high, and lift *this* much”. For these skills as the Referee you should choose realistic values for obstacles in the game world, whilst incorporating an element of chance. For example you might note that to roll the boulder takes 100+d% lbs force (depending upon how smooth it is). When a character decides to push it, you roll and find it’s 183lbs, you can then see if the character can move it or not. By rolling for it when the situation arises, and not beforehand, you've introduced tension and uncertainty. Until the player decides to roll it, you don’t know any more than the players whether it’s possible. The cat remains both alive and dead until the box is opened.
The skills that fit into this category  running, jumping,
lifting  all come under one skill in Explore: Athletics.
Power or Speed?
Evidently in the real world athletes who train for running
have a very different physique from weight lifters – it seems unreasonable to
have characters who excel in both.
My solution is that each rank you take in Athletics you either
improve Power or improve Speed. By combining the two into a single skill it
forces you to either specialise in one or the other, or split between the two
at a much lower ability.
You always get half your athletics rank as a bonus to damage,
regardless of whether you’re specialising in Power or Speed.
For example, here is
an Elf with Athletics Rank 4 (cost 8), ST 1, who has split their 4 ranks into 1
rank power, 3 ranks speed.
This Elf has a kill bonus of +3 (i.e. +3 damage).The power (1) and speed (3) are used later to calculate lift, speed and jump when they become of interest. The Power also increases the character’s weight.
This Elf has a kill bonus of +3 (i.e. +3 damage).The power (1) and speed (3) are used later to calculate lift, speed and jump when they become of interest. The Power also increases the character’s weight.
Note that to be rank 4 for power AND speed would require athletics rank 8, hence cost 128 points  16 times as much as the 8 they spent so far!
I left in the combat section above it as that’s got the column headings. That section contains the skill "thrown" which is your accuracy at throwing, whereas Athletics gives you the kill bonus, i.e. how fast/far you can throw something.
I left in the combat section above it as that’s got the column headings. That section contains the skill "thrown" which is your accuracy at throwing, whereas Athletics gives you the kill bonus, i.e. how fast/far you can throw something.
Real World or Fantastical
Ability?
As mentioned in the last post, I have tweaked the numbers
for progressions. Previously +2 was doubling in weight, now it is +4;
previously +7 was world record ability, now it’s +8 (rank 5, stat +3). This
means ranks 15 are “real world ability”, ranks 610 are “fantastical ability”.
You can cap athletic rank at 5 if you want a historical rather than a fantastical game.
Weight Lifting
For weight lifting, your bonus is Strength + Size + Power, which
gives you a weight in pounds on the table below. This is a dead lift, i.e. pick something up of the ground just enough to move it.
3

2

1

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13


Lift

140

160

200

250

350

400

500

600

700

800

900

1000

1200

1400

1600

2000

2500

Note +8 (+3 stat, +5 power) gives you a dead lift of 1000lbs (the current world
record), and +4 equates to double the weight lifted (as per the weight of a
character). The average value (250 lbs) seems reasonable.
As this is a gamedesignpost, not a howtoplaythegame post, I'm talking through each of the athletics abilities separately. At the bottom of the post there’s the combined table for all
abilities and the corresponding section on the character sheet. There is some complexity, but as players only have a two decisions to
make (athletics rank, and the speed/power split), there's only one table, and the character sheet guides you through the process, so character generation and
improving skills are quick, and my players appreciate having a description of
their character’s abilities they can relate to.
Running & Walking
Movement is calculated for four different types: Sprint (max
1 min), Run (max 10 mins), Jog (max 2 hrs), or Walk (all day).
Your bonus is Stat + Height – Size + Speed, which gives you feet
/ round looked up on the table below (a round is 6 seconds).
The stat is ST for sprinting, ST/AG for run, CO/AG for jog
and CO for walk. (By ST/AG I mean the average of the two stats, rounded up.)
This means that different characters excel at different distances, and it is even possible for you to be no faster say at sprinting than running (though you cannot be worse).
This means that different characters excel at different distances, and it is even possible for you to be no faster say at sprinting than running (though you cannot be worse).
It isn't affected by your height (as that doesn't seem to make much difference) but instead by your build (Height – Size) which gives
Dwarves and Halflings a penalty, Elves a bonus.
The walk speed is also the number of miles per day (assuming
you average 9hrs walking per day).
3

2

1

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13


Sprint

64

72

80

90

100

110

120

130

140

150

160

180

200

220

240

260

280

Run

48

52

56

64

72

80

90

100

110

120

130

140

150

160

180

200

220

Jog

36

40

44

48

52

56

64

72

80

90

100

110

120

130

140

150

160

Walk

28

30

32

36

40

44

48

52

56

64

72

80

90

100

110

120

130

A bonus of +8 (+3 stat, +5 speed) corresponds fairly closely
to world record performance: sprinting is 43.7s for 400m, running is 3:30 for
the 1500m, jogging is 2:06 for the marathon.
I've gone for the rate of increase being halved compared to
weight lifting (i.e. +8 is double) both as this gives more realistic values,
and it fits with kinetic energy being proportional to velocity squared.
Average walk speed (36 ft/rnd) is 4.1 mph. With no rest at all, average
walk in 24hrs would be 98 miles, so there probably needs to be some sort of limit here.
Note that each line is the same as the last, but shifted three cells. It was originally a single line, with Jog/Run/Sprint giving you a bonus of 3/6/9, but in practise having four lines in the table is easier to work from than having one long row with bonuses.
Note that each line is the same as the last, but shifted three cells. It was originally a single line, with Jog/Run/Sprint giving you a bonus of 3/6/9, but in practise having four lines in the table is easier to work from than having one long row with bonuses.
Jumping
Your bonus is ST/AG + Speed (for long jump) or AG + Speed (for high jump), which gives you feet on the table
below.
You also gain a height bonus when jumping – if jumping to
catch something you add your height, if diving onto or over something you add half
your height.
For example, in the traditional high jump and long jump you get to add half your height. If you jumped up to grab hold of a ledge, or the long jump was to grab hold of the lip on the other side you'd add your full height.
Note that the physics of the height bonus work the same for both long jump and high jump, except that for the long jump that's strictly the "direct distance" from your centre of gravity to the target. This is only be important if the long jump distance is small compared to the height, hence:
At most you can double your long jump distance when adding this height bonus.
For example, in the traditional high jump and long jump you get to add half your height. If you jumped up to grab hold of a ledge, or the long jump was to grab hold of the lip on the other side you'd add your full height.
Note that the physics of the height bonus work the same for both long jump and high jump, except that for the long jump that's strictly the "direct distance" from your centre of gravity to the target. This is only be important if the long jump distance is small compared to the height, hence:
At most you can double your long jump distance when adding this height bonus.
3

2

1

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13


High Jump

8''

10''

1'

1' 3''

1' 6''

1' 9''

2'

2.5'

3'

3.5'

4'

5'

6'

7'

8'

10'

12'

Long Jump

3' 6''

4'

5'

6'

7'

8'

10'

12'

14'

16'

20'

25'

30'

35'

40'

50'

60'

The distance you jump is proportional to the square of your
speed, so the rate of increase is double that of running, hence +4 doubles the distance you jump.
World records for high jump / long jump are 8ft and 29ft.
Both of which when reduced by half height mean +8 should be 5' and
26', and the table gives 5' and 25'.
Swim
Your swim speed is just one quarter of your standard
movement speed. This gives reasonably close values to the world records for the 100m (sprint) and 1500m (run) swims (there aren't records for the longer distances). I doubt the time it takes you to swim something will come up in play
very often, but you can use it as e.g. you need to be able to swim at this speed to be able to swim across without being swept away.
All together
The Elf player now completes the athletics abilities section
on the character sheet. They copy the Power 1, Speed 2 across from earlier and
fill in the other details. Each row is just summed from left to right, then at
the end you look up the value from the table below. Halfway there is a subtotals
column (surrounded in bold) is so you don’t have to recalculate the full sum
every time you go up a rank.
You look up the values off this table:
For example Run is 1 + 1 to give subtotal 2. Then you add
Speed 3 to get 5. Run of 5 is 110' per round.
In practice the players never need to read through any rules, you just show them how to fill in this section the first time it’s
needed and they soon pick it up. It also (importantly) isn't needed at character creation, but when it's first used.
Encumbrance?
The performances here take no account of encumbrance. I've been calculating this and applying a penalty to speed, but it needs revising, so I'll leave that for another day.
Encumbrance?
The performances here take no account of encumbrance. I've been calculating this and applying a penalty to speed, but it needs revising, so I'll leave that for another day.
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