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

From: Ricardo Gladwell
Subject: [Forge-main] Re: [freeroleplay] Re: Skills
Date: 30 Aug 2003 14:29:05 +0100


First of all, I must apologize for the delay in replying to your mails.
Its been a busy time at work for me with late nights and late deadlines.
My free time has suffered. It might be an idea to continue this
discussion on the on-line forums rather than the mailing list: I can't
reply to mails at work as easily as I can log onto the forums.

Let me mention how I now foresee the skill system working after the
discussion here:

Skills are like other attributes, except you can buy specializations (or
foci? can anyone think of alternative names for this?) for them. When
rolling a d10 to determine a result where a specialization comes into
play you add an extra success point to the final score. You must always
roll, however: no automatic successes. You can buy more than one
specialization for a skill, with decremental cost, but only one may
apply and the gamemaster always has final say over what can and cannot
be a specialization.

Note: the above can be modified to allow for an automatic success when a
specialization applies giving the character an automatic (but trivial
and minor) success without having to roll. Do we think this is a good
idea or should it be an optional complication?

Group skills are simply collections of other skills, or categories. For
example, the Weapons skill group might include Melee Weapons, Ranged
Weapons, and a list of more exotic weapons for which separate skills
must be purchased. Obviously, Skill Groups are open-ended with regard to
the categories they may include. So, buying a skill in melee weapons
might be written Weapon(Melee).

On Mon, 2003-08-25 at 17:55, Samuel Penn wrote:
> As I mentioned in my GURPS post, GURPS has skills associated with
> a Tech Level. Since I never run cross-genre campaigns, I prefer
> having different lists of skills. I think it adds more flavour to
> the game if the skills are tailored to the setting.

I have to admit, I've never been particularly fond of Tech Levels,
although I've seen them reproduced elsewhere. They are far to linear and
restricting and, as GURPS discovered in its later years, make creating
alternate histories (and futures) difficult. Since most of fantasy and
science fiction deal with these topics in particular, Tech Levels more
often have to be hacked (I believe GURPS have started using a '+'
notation with their tech levels to denote a branching of technology) or
do not provide a fine enough granularity .

I wanted to pioneer a different approach, fixing 'tech levels' according
to skills. As has been suggested before, we simply list the skills
available for a particular setting or period and leave it at that.

> Medieval would have First Aid (bandaging and the like), with possibly
> some Knowledge (Herbs). Nothing else. Modern day First Aid would
> include knowledge of how to perform an injection etc, and to know
> about keeping a wound clean, but would be pretty much the same skill.

The problem is that modern First Aid is far more advanced that medieval
first aid! It would be nice if we could find a 

> Likewise, 16th/17th century scientists would have a Science skill,
> since at this point in time, science hadn't yet split into the
> different sub skills. Reading about scientists of that age seems
> amazing since they covered so many different fields, but there
> wasn't that much to know compared with today, where scientists
> have to specialise.

Thats a good point: there is also the phenomena that, unlike in previous
ages, there is simply too much knowledge for any one person to learn.
Once upon a time, all human knowledge could be learned by a single
person - a polymath. All the books available to society could be read by
one person. Now, such things are impossible and it would seem could only
get worse in the future. But then, hypothetically, as science progresses
into the far future it may again be possible to have polymaths once

> Something I've been thinking of for Yags, so to have specialisations
> as a cheaper skill. Skill costs are on a pyramid scale (1, 3, 6, 10...),
> but a specialisation would be a flat 1 pt/level. A specialisation can
> never be higher than the parent skill.
> This keeps the different specialisations apart, without being too
> costly for the characters. You might have Survival as the parent
> skill, with specialisations of Desert, Arctic, Temperate etc.

Interesting, how would the two separate skills work mechanically? Do you
add your specialization to the final roll?

> > 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.
> > Ideas?
> Performance might be a better skill name. I think I'll change Yags...

I've used Perform for FRINGE, but Performance is equally good :)

> > 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?
> One argumentI have with keeping them seperate, is that Survival is
> one that cries out to be specialised in terrain/climate types,
> whereas Track doesn't. However, I have no practical experience of
> either of them.

I don't know, not being an expert here, but I imagine tracking something
in, say, tundra and snow would require different skills to tracking
something in, say, a forest. I think the problem here is that any list
of skills we come up with will have overlap - that is, two or more
skills that sort of cover the same thing.

> I'd go for pre-requisites rather than bonuses, since it doesn't
> make much sense to have a high physics skill and no knowledge
> of mathematics. However, this whole area starts getting very
> complicated. It's almost easiest to leave it to the GM and player
> to come up with a sensible character, rather than enforcing it.

I think skill pre-requisites are a brilliant solution to the problem,
particularly within the Skill Groups. Thanks :)

> Actually, something else to consider if you want to go down that
> route, is how the character got the skill. In the modern day,
> somone with Science (Physics) has almost certainly gone to
> university. This means they're going to have all sorts of
> prerequisite skills. From a skill point perspective, such a
> character is going to be very expensive. How do you model that?

Note: I was also pondering the idea of creating a 'balancing' system - I
know how many modern game developers hate using this term - for
assigning 'value' to various types of traits, signifying their cost. For
example, buying an extra point in, say, Health might be more expensive
than an extra point in, say, Will. Trait values can then be tweaked for
your particular setting.

So, by giving Sciences a higher Value, making them more expensive, we
could model your suggested example. We could make all Science skills
much more expensive (and Science(Medical) even more expensive than that
due to the higher personal costs to learning it).

> > > > Disguise
> > >
> > > - Manipulation?
> >
> > Unsure here, i think it may well be a seperate skill all together.
> > Ideas?
> Can it be done by mixing existing skills? Some sort of acting to
> pull off the disguise, make-up to create it maybe.

Good point.

> > I think martial arts should have a separete skill - unlike brawling,
> > they're not something you can just pick up.
> How much is philosophy, how much is fancy foot work?
> What happens when a bar room brawler (Brawl skill 5) starts learning
> Karate (Karate skill 1). If they get into a fight, are they going to
> be crap if they opt to use some Karate moves?

Hmm... I have to admit, I'm no expert on martial arts but its always
been my impression that even a lower skilled expert in martial arts
would beat a bar room brawler. But, without access to more information
on the subject (time to do some research) i cannot say. Certainly, I
imagine it would depend upon the type of campaign you are running: in a
Kung-Fu setting, they would be separate, but in a more realistic setting
they would be the same?

> Hope that helped.

It was great, keep 'em coming :)

Ricardo Gladwell
President, Free Roleplaying Community

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