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[Forge-main] Re: [freeroleplay] Re: Skills

From: Ricardo Gladwell
Subject: [Forge-main] Re: [freeroleplay] Re: Skills
Date: 24 Aug 2003 17:23:43 +0100

Hi Sam,

Thanks for the comprehensive feedback on the skills I sent through. You
had a lot of good ideas that I would just love to use, in particular,
the division of Charm and Guile (or perhaps Charm and Manipulation) into
two separate skills. Something I'd like to do myself. I can see how, for
example, Presence + Charm = Seduction/Leadership, Strength +
Manipulation = Intimidation, and so on.

On Mon, 2003-08-25 at 15:02, Samuel Penn wrote:
> If you've got a game based around circus performers, then you'd
> probably want to split acrobatics into all the different types
> of acrobatics. Most of the time though, not much is gained by
> keeping them apart.

As a side note, there is problem of converting different skills to new
genres. I've tried to make the skills included here as neutral as
possible, but they tend to align themselves to more S&S fantasy. It may
well be impossible to construct a skills list that could be used across
all genres. If so, we may have to specify different skill lists for each
FRINGE genre book (e.g. FRINGE: Fantasy) Ideas?

Also, how do we compare scales. For example, the Medieval
Science(Medical) does not even compare to modern Science(Medical).
Perhaps a cap on some skills depending upon the genre? Or no Sciences
for pre-modern campaigns altogether, e.g. Knowledge(Chirurgy) and
Science(Medical). But then how would far-future medical science compare?

> I try and base skills around what a character might want to do. So,
> take acrobatics and climb. Is a character ever going to want to take
> one and not the other? Normally the sort of character who would take
> either skill would be a thief (of the cat burglar variety). Such a
> character, more often than not, is going to want both, so all you're
> doing by having climb as a seperate skill is doubling the cost for
> that character.

Good point, we should bear this in mind when creating new skills. Maybe
this should even go into the FRINGE/Design Criteria page?

> Likewise, I have combat skills down to a minimal level.
> 'Weapon and shield' covers all fighting using a weapon and a shield,
> regardless of whether it's a mace or a sword, or whether the character
> is parrying or attacking.

I agree with you totally here. The only problem is genres: we definitely
need separate skills for various weapons, e.g. Firearms skill?

> A system like GURPS has the advantage that experienced characters
> will tend to broaden their skill base

If you don't mind, but for everyones (and mine :) could you remind us
how GURPS skills work?

> What if someone starts off specialising in East Africa, then starts
> reading up on South America? Area lore type skills is something I've
> had a real problem with. Firstly, there's zero similarity between
> North American culture and East African culture, so one skill covering
> both isn't realistic. However, Culture/Area lore skills aren't that
> important, and players aren't going to want to sink lots of points
> into every little speciality if each one is a different skill.

I think the point maybe that you might be able to take a skill more than
once, or have more than one specialization for a skill? Actually,
thinking about it I like the second best. Not sure how exactly it would
work or what benefit it would provide without breaking the 1-20
human-possible range design criteria. However, we had problems with just
this subject in previous discussions on Skill Groups (Please read
December discussion on Skill in FRINGE mailing list archive here:

> > Acrobatics
> - should include climb.

I agree.

> > Brawl
> - Same name I use in Yags. I also use it for improvised weapons (such
> as bottles, chair legs), for small weapons (knives, daggers), and as
> a default for all other melee weapons (higher fumble chance, and can't
> use any special maneouvres).
> > Diplomacy
> - See for some
> brainstorming of my own on skills like this.

Should be merged with Manipulation, a Intelligence or Wits +
Manipulation, or even Charisma?

> > Dodge
> - I think it should be under Brawl.

I think I agree, unless anyone can come up with a good reason why they
shouldn't be merged?

> > Expression
> - See diplomacy. I have a 'Bard' skill which covers singing, oratory
> and poetry, since these are the skills a bard type character would
> want to use. 

Perhaps this should be merged with Art. Or maybe not: singing is
entirely a different skill to painting a picture of creating a
structure. The Bard skill you propose is, perhaps, too genre-specific.

> > Heal
> - Have it cover basic first aid (and is the only skill available in
> low tech games). Surgery/Medicine would be professional skills available
> in high tech games, but they wouldn't replace basic first aid.
> Consider: 9/10 times, all a player character is interested in is basic
> first aid. Only if they're actually playing a doctor/surgeon in a modern
> campaign would they be interested in more advanced skills.

I suppose, heal should be removed in favor of Knowledge(Chirurgy) or
Science(Medical). Note to self: should all Knowledge and Science skills
imply be seperate skills?

> > Intuition
> - I use a skill called 'guile', which is both lying and detecting when
> others are lying (used with charisma or perception attribute, depending
> on which). Possibly should be merged with Manipulation.

I agree.

Forgot to mention this one last time: a generic skill that describes
your knowledge of various non-scientific topics. Also uses the Science
skill. As I recall, someone once sent me a comprehensive skill-tree of
all knowledges and sciences. I've lost it, but if you are still out
there please re-send?

> > Manipulation
> - Many games penalise social characters by having half a dozen skills
> covering just the basic social interactions, when a combat character
> often just needs a sword skill. Keeping it simple is good.

Thanks :) I agree

> > Sport
> - Isn't this covered by acrobatics? If not, is there a good reason to
> have them as seperate skills?

Hmm... Sport covers Running, Swimming (see below) etc... not stuff
necessarily covered by Acrobatics. I think there is an argument for
having the two.

> > Swim
> - There's an argument to stick this with acrobatics, but in many
> settings very few people can swim. I tend to use it as 'acrobatics in
> water', so it makes sense to keep them seperate. In a modern day or
> SF campaign, I'd be more inclined to merge it with something else.

I agree.

> > Survival
> > Track
> - I keep on changing my mind about whether these two skills should be
> merged, or kept seperate. A ranger type character would tend to want
> to take both, which is an argument to merge them according to my own
> reasoning above. However, other characters may commonly pick up
> survival (learning how to cook, what berries can be eaten), without
> becoming good at tracking. I'm interested in seeing other arguments.

Hmmm... I lean more toward combining Survival and Track into one skill,
with tracking being a possible specialization. Someone with some outdoor
skills would have some experience with tracking, no? Ideas?

> > Crafts
> - I assume you'd have Crafts (Blacksmith), Crafts (Shipwright). Another
> possible heading is Profession, which is slightly broader, and can
> cover things like 'Farming', which isn't a craft.

Crafts or Trade or Profession... which ever people like the most :)

> > Sciences
> - Would you have Science (Physics), Science (Chemistry) etc as
> seperate skills?

I would lean towards that... perhaps have Knowledge(Mathematics) as a
totally separete skill. This is tricky: perhaps we should think about
some sort of cross-skill bonuses as in d20? +2 if to
Knowledge(Mathematics) if you have a ranking in Science(Physics).

> > Computers (Knowledge?)
> - Doing what? I split this into two - 'Computer Operation' and
> 'Computer hacking'. The former is using spreadsheets, and is
> probably covered by other skills as well (Administration etc).
> By hacking, I mean knowing about how computers work - programming
> them, troubleshooting, securing, cracking etc.

Actually, I think we should have an Operations skill for operating
modern machinery, e.g. computers. For example, if you know how to
program your VCR or drive a car, you may also be able to operate a
computer. Another skill, Knowledge(Hacking) for example, could be used
for more advanced uses.

> > Disguise
> - Manipulation?

Unsure here, i think it may well be a seperate skill all together.

> > Forgery
> - Skill by itself, maybe covered in an arts group. What would things
> like cartography, calligraphy etc by covered by?

Again, this should probably be covered by a Craft skill.

> > Hide
> - Stealth?

I agree

> > Lock Picking (Craft?)
> - A professional/craft skill of Locksmithing. Yags uses a 'sleight'
> skill, which covers sleight of hand, disarming traps, picking locks
> and picking pockets.

I think the Sleight skill is probably an excellent idea... can i rip it
off you? :)

> > Martial Arts [Group]
> - Brawl. At the end of the day, martial arts is just being really
> good at brawling. Maybe allow special manouevres to be learnt,
> which are only available to those trained in certain martial arts
> styles, but which all come off the brawl skill.

I think martial arts should have a separete skill - unlike brawling,
they're not something you can just pick up.

> > Meditation
> - I think you need to decide what it does, before deciding on how to
> represent it with a skill. Is it used in magic or psi? To help with
> sleep? To reduce need for food and water?

This is just another example of various miscelleanous skills that would
probably need to be taken into consideration. Obviously, there is some
need for this but where does it fit in?

> > Pick Pocket (Craft?)
> - See lock picking for my take on this.
> > Research
> - Knowledge skill or science skill - both have need of research.

I agree.

> > Sleight of Hand
> - Again, see lock picking.

What about magicians? Saying that, I can see your point here.

> > Teaching
> - See meditation. How is it used? In Yags, 'Teach' and 'Author' can
> both be quite important, since many skills are improved through
> training, so finding a good teacher (or a book by a good author) can
> be quite important. If it doesn't have much game effect, stick it
> under one of the other social skills (such as manipulation).

Or perhaps a Profession/Trade? Trade(Teacher) for example?

> > Throw
> - Yags uses this as the range attack version of Brawl - i.e. it's a
> default combat skill for all cases when throwing things.

Depends on the usage: can be merged with either Sports of Brawl.

> > Traps
> - Building or disarming? Could be survival based (setting snares),
> or a craft skill.

I agree :)

> > Ideas?
> Lots - sorry for the length! All IMHO of course.

Not at all, keep 'em coming. You given us loads of ideas. I love it :)
let me know what you think of my comments on your comments and I will
update FRINGE: Basics with the above agreements ASAP.


Ricardo Gladwell
President, Free Roleplaying Community

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