jstomel wrote:Let's take my current character, a level 10 fardrengir, for example. He has two instances of summon mount (universally beneficial), striker (adds to all attacks), drive back (adds to all attacks), hunter's heart (every upkeep), trap master (increases the base level of all traps, a number I have written down), and hunter's cunning (only applies when I use a trap action). Most of these are actions that happen every combat round, only one is situational.
Okay, I think I know where you're coming from now. I'm making assumptions here; correct me if I'm wrong. You're talking about combat specifically, or at least a game with a heavy focus on combat. You're right, Passives are broadly applicable in combat, if combat is all or most of what you're doing.
But, combat balance is not equal to game balance.
I'm not accusing anyone of "bad-wrong-fun". I've been in lots of fun games that were heavy on combat encounters. But the games I typically run are more situated in other elements, like exploration. Many of my players don't want combat that lasts more than 3 rounds. Combat always plays a part at my table, or at least conflict, because fighting things is fun, but balance in a system (or at least equality in relative play options) needs to come from more of a system wide perspective than just combat.
I suspect Skills play a bigger part in my games than in yours, and Passives a smaller part.
GMs vary greatly in how they present the game. I'm sure there's someone out there who runs FotN with no combat encounters at all. I think a balancing bias towards combat is pretty common RPG design, but I also think it's a miss-step. If you give someone a bunch of hammers, those nails are going to get it. But FotN under RGS2 is capable of a broader spectrum of experience already, I wouldn't want RGS3 to fall into the trap of everyone being spec'd for combat equally like some big Viking-variant Wold of Warcraft and miss the bigger picture.
Passives as 50% of the board slants play quite drastically in one direction of play. I believe with the changes made in RGS3 Skills have the potential to be an even more important way of interacting with the game world. The boards for characters are key in affecting the direction of the game; how many hammers for the nails. Every GM or prospective GM should be able to run FotN in a way that suits them. There are play-styles that neither you nor I likely engage in that the RGS3 system should account for. I think we should avoid biasing the design for combat, and keep in mind all possibilites of play style possible when thinking about the boards and what they should look like.