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Ygg: "Take Any Skill"

Started by Christoffer Lernö, October 12, 2002, 02:19:17 PM

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Christoffer Lernö

I'm trying to sum up some good ideas from this thread in RPG theory.

First up, Mike Holmes writes this:

Quote from: Mike HolmesAs always my solution is to look first at the mechanics and then label to suit them. That is, there is no taking Expert Juggling at level 1. This is simple, just do not allow any term that has a qualitative meaning as part of a skill title. So you can have Juggling, just not expert juggling.

Very good call. That eliminates the problem with possible differing qualifiers.

The we have Walt writing this thing here:

Quote from: WaltIn games with select-any-skill mechanics, there is a natural tradeoff between skill specialization and generalization, in which specialized skills are more effective than generalized ones when the task falls within the area of specialty, and are less effective than generalized ones when the task falls outside the area of specialty.

He further on proposes three levels:

Maximum gain
Skill Specific Use=Specific Situation

Medium gain
Skill General Use=Includes Specific Situation
Skill Specific Use=Very Similar Situation

Low gain
Skill General Use=Includes Specific Situation in a very General Way
Skill Specific Use=Similar but not very Similar Situation.

(Walt's original presentation is a bit clearer than mine I think)

What can I make out of that? I've been thinking about it for some time (which is why I don't write this until now)

What about a system which synthesize those ideas (together with the lack of need for overly regulating the system)

What about simply "you take x descriptors, y of them is at level 1, z is at level 2, and v is at level 3" or something like that.

These descriptors follow Mike's rule of "excellent at horsemanship level 1" is the same as "horsemanship level 1". Adjectives don't count.

Then follow up with Walt's rules for relation mapping:

Using horsemanship to take care of the horses and feeding them and stuff works at medium efficiency for level 1 (whatever that means in terms of the system) whereas "taking care of horses level 1" would be maximum gain for level 1. Again this has to be formed more or less by consensus by the group, it doesn't seem like a big deal.

Aside from that I need a bunch of examples, and I pretty much already decided to have "Land of Origin" (or simply "Home") and "Former Profession" which you have to decide. Aside from them you get a number of descriptors as per above.

Beyond that I have to decide what the levels actually mean in terms of game mechanics and how they interface with the stats. But those are more practical than philosophical problems.

Are there any problems with this scheme I should be aware of right now or do I simply plunge in and write up these rules?
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Hi Chris, me again.  :)

First, I just can't seem to wrap my head around the whole efficiency levels.  The actual concept feels far too subjective.  In actual play it seems like it would cause plenty of headaches/arguments between GMs and players, at least as far as "traditional" roleplaying games go (and due to familiarity, that is how I generally judge a game unless I know the game is meant to be played otherwise, like with your one shot Horror Game).   It also feels kind of complicated but it might play out better than it reads.  Maybe if you provide some more examples it will seem smoother.  

Also, if I could make a suggestion, instead of writing something like the task resolution example as x and y, you might try writing the actual skill in its place.  I think it gives a better sense of how something would play out (for me anyway).  OK, I know it's a stupid little thing and if people are too brain dead to substitute melee for x and dodge for y they probably shouldn't be giving you feedback on mechanics, but really, when I read something like that, the fact that I have to stop and mentally insert a skill into the sentence is kind of distracting---then again, I always hated algebra so my brain struggles to shut down whenever I see an "equation" like that.  :)

Anyway, on to something hopefully more useful.  I'm not 100% familiar with all of the terminology thrown about around here but what you call descriptors seems to me like what other games call specializations.  Am I off on this?  

If so, why not have the basic skill, then let the players make up the actual specialization based on their character concept.   Everyone with the skill would be able to do things normally associated with that skill, specializations give bonuses (for mechanics) or it allow something simple to be done without a roll.  

Maybe something to the effect of horsemanship = knows the basics of riding, care of and training horses.  

-horsemanship (care of) - better at shoeing, caring for sick horses, judging worth
-horsemanship (mounted combat) - better at mounted combat
-horsemanship (training) - better at training the horse
-horsemanship (trick riding) - better at performing stunts, etc.

Difficulty of the task would then somehow detract from the chances/roll/whatever resolution mechanic you are using.  

Damn, rereading, I never seem to know if I make sense to anyone but myself.  :)

*I have to add that I'm kind of biased because this is pretty much what we did with Dreamwalker---basic skill, characters decide and pick the specific specialization (if any), bonuses apply to spec-specific rolls.  

As a side note, could you (or anyone else) point me to some threads that discuss why skill lists are bad.  I read a definite "anti-skill list bias" in many posts and I was just wondering where that comes from.  Is it just because they have been done before or is there something else I am missing?




      I know for me, the anti-skill list bias comes from the fact that they tire me out when making a characther. I just don't have the time to look through 500 skills and pick the 12 that go with my characther.

Looks good.  The one problem I've encountered is faux specialization. I.e. it you take something like 'Fight with weapon X', you are normally using a specific skill under specific conditions, so max effectiveness.  Basicly anytime when the 'special' condition is by far the most common, or Amdals law, you can have this.  The only way to really show the disadvantage of this is to make the common condition uncommon, (in the example, take away the weapon).  Honestly, I think this is one of these things that groups tend to come to an agreement on how to deal with it. I don't think its enough of a drawback to counter a good idea.