Poll: Which new core abilities should we add to the character sheet?
This poll is closed.
3 15.79%
Martial Arts
3 15.79%
3 15.79%
4 21.05%
3 15.79%
None of them
1 5.26%
I don't care/have no preference
2 10.53%
Total 19 vote(s) 100%
* You voted for this item. [Show Results]

M20 Abilities
Hey guys! Before I go ahead with anymore changes, I'd like to find out how everyone feels about the new core abilities featured in M20. I have my own opinions, but I think this is something that would be better decided upon as a group. Bearing that in mind, these are the abilities you'll be voting on:

1: Art (Talent)

Art will replace Performance, and it will merge those disciplines with the visual art styles (painting, sculpture and the like,) and creative writing talent that are currently under the purview of Crafts and Expression. If we decide to implement this, I will remove Performance and swap those dots over to Art on all the character sheets. Any characters who have dots in Crafts or Expression that are meant to represent some form of art can request to have those points swapped also/instead. If you happen to have a combination of art-based Crafts, Expression and/or Performance, then I will work with you to figure out the best solution for your character. Art is one of the abilities that M20 classifies as general - and therefor under the standard rules each art would need to be purchased separately. However, I am going to put this up for vote in another thread. So how I handle any potential change will depend on how we choose to implement it.

My thoughts: I don't have a hugely strong opinion regarding Art vs. Performance. I do think this is kind of an unnecessary change. I also kind of side-eye the idea that all forms of artistic expression can be shoe-horned into the same trait. And yes, this complaint can be applied to a lot of the WoD abilities, including Performance and Crafts. But I honestly feel that painting has more in common with some of the other non-artistic crafts, skills-wise, than it does with dancing, singing and the like, and I don't see why writing shouldn't remain with Expression (though I suppose you could make the argument that not all writers are good speakers.) So if it were up to me I don't think I'd use this, but I also don't really have a problem with it if other people like it better.

2: Martial Arts (Skill)

Martial Arts is a new skill that will encompass all trained forms of martial arts. Currently, these are part of the Brawl talent. In addition to becoming its own separate trait, Martial Arts also links up to a whole bunch of new combat maneuvers that are specific to martial artists. If we choose to implement this, players will have the option to swap points over from Brawl if they choose (assuming the character has training in some form of martial art.) Or, if they prefer to keep some dots in Brawl, they can leave them and buy up Martial Arts normally.

My thoughts: When I initially saw the new character sheets, this was the trait that I was least happy about. For a couple of reasons, really. One of my complaints is that it's taking one specific part of Brawl and then making a whole new trait for it. Which means that anyone who trains in martial arts (as opposed to, say, street fighting or magick-enhanced claw attacks) needs to spend more XP than those who don't (since I don't think it really makes sense for a trained fighter not to have at least a few points in their basic brawling talent.) Functionally, it's the same thing as if they took the Melee ability and then added a separate trait just for Swords. On that point alone, I find it kind of silly. Another complaint I have is that it's basically giving martial arts this elite place in the echelon of fighting styles, and it opens up a debate over which combat styles actually qualify as martial arts. A lot of people wouldn't, for instance, count Boxing as a martial art, but I personally think it is, and I'm fairly sure that most boxers would agree with me. It does seem though, based on some of the maneuvers listed under "dirty fighting," that the M20 book is assuming that boxing still falls under Brawl.

However... I had that response, and then I saw the huge list of awesome new combat maneuvers. And here's the thing - I really don't want to keep people from being able to use those. So even if we don't implement it, I am still going to allow people to use the Martial Arts maneuvers. It'll just be based on the brawl skill instead of martial arts, and of course it will only be available to those characters whose brawl skill actually represents martial arts training. Of course, I can see some logic behind wanting players to pay for that training given the new combat system (though the dirty fighting maneuvers are also awesome and they don't require a whole new skill.) I can also see why it might be easier to just take the new system as it is and not try to apply too many tweaks to it. So even though I personally don't like this trait, there are probably some perfectly good arguments for keeping it.

Also, I think I play the character who's going to get hit the hardest with this change, XP-wise, so I will acknowledge I may have some personal bias.

3: Research (Skill)

Pretty much what it sounds like. This new skill would be used for all research-based activities. Currently, research rolls are made using the Investigation trait. If we add Research, that component of Investigation will be removed, and players may choose to swap dots over if they want to.

My Thoughts: As with Art, I think this is a trait that didn't actually need fixing. Personally, I've never had a problem with research being part of Investigation, and I'm not sure this one very specific thing really calls for its own trait. But research is often a big component of figuring out plot threads and the like, and maybe research-leaning characters would rather have a dedicated skill. So I wouldn't necessarily hate using it.

4: Esoterica (Knowledge)

Esoterica is a catch-all Knowledge for all kinds of occult, new age, "esoteric" practices. This includes yoga, tarot, herbalism and a huge array of other things. Currently, all of these things can be done with other abilities. (Yoga would be athletics, tarot would be Occult and herbalism would be Medicine.) If we decide to use Esoterica, players may, if they choose, swap dots over from another associated ability.

My Thoughts: Honestly, this feels a lot like the writers are trying to group up practices based less on the actual skills involved than on some kind of thematic similarity. Which goes along with my feelings on Art, above. That isn't how I would organize the traits, but I can understand why they're doing it. Especially in this case, I can see the appeal perhaps for characters who specialize in a lot of disparate but thematically similar practices - since it would mean buying up dots in fewer traits. That said, I personally don't like how this will rob Occult of a lot of its usefulness, and I really don't think it makes a lot of sense to lump yoga in with palm-reading.

5: Politics (Knowledge)

This, of course, is not a new ability as far as the WoD is concerned. It's just new for Mage. So I'm guessing no one needs me to explain it. There are currently no correlating abilities on the sheet, so if we add this players will need to spend xp to purchase it as normal (if they wish to do so.)

My Thoughts: We already discussed Politics in the last character sheet poll, and I think I articulated all of my feelings there. Given the various ways in which a character might choose to interact with the political sphere, I still think this is already well-reflected in the backgrounds (Influence, Contacts, etc.) and in other applicable traits (etiquette, subterfuge, expression, leadership...) So I don't really feel there's a strong need for this, but I can see it being a nice thing to have for those characters who have a focus on politics. I wouldn't mind adding it if it's something people want.


Having read that, you may have detected a general lack of enthusiasm on my part toward these changes. And it's true that I'm not terribly excited about any of them, but I also honestly wouldn't mind making these changes if it's something you guys want. So please don't let my feelings influence you.

I've set the poll up so that users can select multiple options. You can vote for none of them, all of them, or whichever ones you like. And if you have comments you'd like to add, please feel free to do so (though it isn't necessary.) This poll will stay open for a week.
Okay, I've made peace with the changes.
Edit Reason: I had an actual talk with someone and their argument made sense

I'm just going to put the argument out here in the open because reasons.

If we're going to run Mage 20th, in my opinion it's neither fair nor helpful to people who are brand new to WOD or to Mage in general to have this 600-page doorstopper of a source book that they already have to read through and then to show up all excited to jump in and it's like "Oh wait yeah no Art is Performance now but if you want to actually be good at painting and shit that's under Crafts and Esoterica is Occult but if you want to be hella good at new age non-western mysticism that's included under Medicine or you can take a Secondary Ability or something etc etc" on top of whatever else we're doing or not doing. (Arete upgrades costing x 6 instead of x 7, I'm looking at you.)

It's way easier for us old-timers to grandfather in changes to our two-year-old sheets than it is for some rookie to have to make sense of a sheet that has a bunch of subtle but significant differences on it and besides in like a year nobody will even remember the fact that we used to use the Revised sheet so I don't see using the sheet that comes with the book hurting anything.
Look. I have school. And RP. And all my other time is taken up by sheer, unreasoning panic. I don't have time for Reddit.
-- ixphaelaeon
Alright guys, the polls are officially closed. Thank you to everyone who participated.

As for the results, 7 people voted - 2 of whom chose to abstain. That means that all of the abilities are being implemented, since they each got a majority vote (at least 3 out of 5 possible.)

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