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OK, another rules question; on something where I've got so confused by what people say that I can't find the appropriate bit of the rules...

Specialities, am I correct that this is how purchasing them works:

Each dot costs 3XP. For each ability you can have up to three dots worth of speciality which can all be in the same thing or can be all in different things, or two in one and one in another? -- Senji

Unless you and I are both grossly misunderstanding the rules- yep :) - DariusSolluman

SWITCH MUNCHKIN Hmm, so it would appear that it is best (after Essence) to buy specialities in character creation (where they're cheaper than ability dots), and then increase the abilities during game time. SWITCH NOMUNCHKIN

Whereas, it would appear to be more realistic do to it the other way around; after all it's going to be easier in the confines of game time to learn how to prod things with a sword better, than to learn the generic skills of Mêlée.

On the third hand, I've been thinking for a long time that more Specialities would be good, so maybe next time I chargen I should just bear that in mind... -- Senji

Actually, experience wise, it's MUCH better to max out an Ability and not buy Specialities with Freebies.

For 2 Freebies, you take an Ability from 3 to 5- that's the equivelent of 12 experience for a favored Ability, or 6 experience per Freebie.

For 1.5 Freebies, you get 3 Specialties- that's 9 experience, or, again, 6 experience per freebie.

However, Specialties don't have the training time, Specialties don't open up Charm potential, and Specialties aren't always applicible. You /will/ eventually buy an Ability you like up to 5; you might not buy Specialities for it, though.

Besides, everyone knows that Backgrounds and Virtues are the best deal for Freebies. :) - DariusSolluman

Virtues? Beyond maybe sometimes a single point because 5 just isn't quite enough to round out a character; and I can see some concepts requiring *lots* of Virtue points, but... *unconvinced* -- Senji

But Virtues give you three bennies when bought at Character creation.

A) The Virtue itself. Useful for Channeling more effectively and resisting certain things.\\ B) Willpower. High virtue = More Willpower, which is neccesary for the best Charms.\\ C) Essence. Virtues and Willpower both feed your Essence pools.\\

The proper Solar long term combat minmaxer has both a Valor and Conviction of 3, Compassion of 1. They then blow 12 Freebies on raising Conviction and Valor to 5 each. That means they regain 2 Willpower a day (on average), have 10 Willpower, can gain 5 bonus dice on almost any given attack for a Willpower, and have more Personal and Periphereal Essence than most others.

Since you don't get the Willpower bennie after creation, each freebie in a Virtue is functionally worth both the price of increasing the Willpower AND increasing the Virtue. And if your Willpower starts at 6, that's a minimum of 6 experience per freebie; in truth, it's higher, but I don't recall how much experience raising a Virtue costs.

Now, there's no /concept/ for the character. I'm talking from a pure 'maximize your freebie-to-experience' ratio :) - DariusSolluman

Of course, higher Virtues means more frequent Limit Breaks. - Quendalon

Which is why you take the Cowardly Valor flaw (can't recall it's name). Helps to get you out of danger during the Break :) - DariusSolluman

Hey, just build a concept!! I instictively did just that, C+V at 5 right away on my character for the 'Paladin' value of having extremely high virtues and willpower, before I even knew about virtue channeling or the calculations of Essence pools. Though I agree by the end of chargen (i.e. 3 weeks later and having read the rules about twice through) I had realized how good the investment was.
However, I've done the actual XP calculations and Virtues max out at 5xp per freebie (Virtues are x3 Darius) whereas you can nail 6xp per freebie in specializing and roughly the same in abilities. Math in Discussions/PowerfulStartingSolars.
In the end I'd say specialties offer the best deal XP-wise if you put all your points there, except specialties AREN'T worth the XP they cost in-game compared to general abilities, unless your goal is a very high dice pool in a single, specific situation. (yeah I know fighting with a sword is not that specific) - ArchonShiva

I'm afraid I have to disagree with your math. While Virtues themselves max out at 5 xp per freebie, because they raise your starting Willpower for free--provided that you are increasing one of your highest two Virtues--the maximum mathematical potential for Virtues is 8.5 xp per freebie. That is, raising a Virtue from 3 to 4 costs 9 XP (That's 18 for two), raising a Virtue from 4 to 5 costs 12 XP (That's 24 for two, so our running total is 42), raising Willpower to 7 costs 12 (total 54), 8 costs 14 (total 68) 9 costs 16 (total 84) and 10 costs 18. Your grand total = 102. You spent 12 freebie points. 102/12 = 8.5. - Panache

The trick with specialities is to engineer such that you're always in them... -- Senji

I tend to require of players that they demonstrate under which circumstances the specialty would not be applicable and make sure that these cover a significant chunk of the normally useful range of the ability. I tend to accept Swords because being able to use any weapon at all is usually an advantage, and because the best weapon you ever find might just be a First Age axe. Unarmed Brawl I would accept as well because it prevents you from using improvised weapons, which add to damage, and brawling aids, which could even be artifacts. Basically you have to argue why it sucks for you not to have the full skill, and if I'm not convinced (which is rather easy to do) the specialization is too broad. But yes, I do realize Senji was, hopefully, being sarcastic. Your specialization can be the only thing you'll ever want to use the skill for; it simply can't be the only thing anyone might want the skill for. And the part you do without *must* have the potential to cost you at some point. As a side note, yes, 'swords' is just about the broadest melee specialty anyone can get. - ArchonShiva

Obviously the ST shouldn't let the character get away with always being able to use their Speciality! :-) My new ST seems to be happy with "weapons he made himself" as a speciality for MA, which is cool. -- Senji

I think that's how you link to the page you wanted (use discussions folloed by / followed by name.). Yep, that works, although its a little ugly (I'd quite like the whole thing linktext, but i don't know how to get that, so i'll leave that as a further refinement) -- Darloth

Tossing this off just before bed, but IIRC, characters may only have three specialties, not three dots. In other words, you can have Swords, Axes, and Fighting While Doing a Handstand each rated at 5 for Melee (so 5 dex + 5 melee + 5 spec = 15 pool before bonuses). I'm not clear on the cost per dot, though. & Arafelis

Not my my reading. You get three specialties, period. And can spend up to three of them on a single ability, or one each on three different abilities, or whatever. Fair Folk (Mountain Folk) make this clearer, as they actually get /5/ specialties for craft, but are still subject to the same 3 specialties in the same thing limit as Solars. Scrollreader
I think you might be right; I think I'd only really read the text on p99 of the corebook, but the Specialties heading on p133 and 134 says, "may never have more than three specialties... Characters may take the same specialty more than once to increase the bonus they gain in particular circumstances... example, a character who is a master of the sword might take the Melee specialty "Sword" three times." -which either means you can take 3 dots in Sword, or 15 dots in Sword. Superhuman mastery is one thing, a starting character with 25+ dice to attack is something else. I guess I'm just confused by the character sheet (which has 5 dots for each in the 'specialties' section). &Arafelis
I believe they changed that for later char sheets. Anyway, this might be a good place to mention one of my favorite houserules - you can have as many specialties as you like, but only one can apply at a time, and they max out at three dots each. Extras, mortals and such are stuck with the old rule. I'm still not sure if I should tweak the cost of specialties in this system though. Resplendence