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 Post subject: Player Defined Skills
PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:05 pm 
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Just looking at the skills system in general I have been toying with an idea:

Player defined skills

Perhaps skills could simply be used to grant a +2 die bonus to ability checks.

To what end?

Anything you can justify really. For example someone with “bear lore” could claim a +2 bonus to tracking a bear, a +2 bonus for an argument involving bears (say whether or not to go through the woods due to the danger of bears), +2 to hide from bear, +2 to find a bear that is hiding, +2 to spot a bear sneaking up on them.

Skills could also be stacked, often in the form of more specialized skills. So a local hunter tracking a bear might have woodlore (+2), Bear Lore (+2), Knowledge: Local water sources (+2) and Bears in this particular forest Lore (+2) :lol: for +8 die total bonus. If he hunts in a strange forest in another kingdom his bonus would drop to a +4 die bonus.

Next I'll go with say, blacksmithing. You can use skills (In conjunction with one or more ability checks) to perform tasks. So a blacksmith who is designing a complex tool might require a difficult MA check modifier to plan it, an easy strength check to build it, a perception check to examine it for flaws and touch it up. And of course, for all these check he can bring in bonuses from his skills.

Why this might be a good thing:

1.) It allows for a vast breadth of skills without requiring a catalog

2.) It encourages player creativity in finding justifications for their skill bonus to apply to situations, which in turn encourages unique solutions to problems, rewarding solutions for tasks that people with different skill sets might approach in different ways.

Pitfall:

The player defined nature means you will occasionally get skills that are way too broad: "I take stuff-lore!" or abusive/stupid: "I take knowledge: Stabbing people", but a few quick "narrow that down" comments should end that nonsense.

Just noodling around with all of this, thus it just may be crazy talk! :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Player Defined Skills
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:55 am 
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Hm, so, in essence you'd like to go for even narrower skills than TROS currently has? How large number of skills do you see this system having?

IMO the main pitfall isn't the players trying to obtain too broad skills (the referee can always veto those) but to actually using the lot. One must constantly aware of of his whole set of skills. Basically every skill use would mean going over your whole list trying to figure out whether something applies or not. I'd imagine this taking quite a long time or at least having a deep curve to get used to. You have played D&D 3e, right? Do you remember adding up charge, flanking, point blank, dodge, deflection, racial, size, rage and whatever bonuses? Your proposal seems alike, yet you don't have a set categories of bonuses that would help with the orientation -- you have to make them up as you go along. I'm not even sure whether that would be easier or harder.

Also, is the +2 meant to have some effect on the CP as well?

...

I for example use broad skills: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=403

And if a player wants a custom skill for his character he must pick it instead of a broad skill AND the new skill has to be quite specific. I can see reading lips being a custom skill, as this isn't covered by anything else.

In that system, "bears" would just be a speciality and I see no problem using that bonus die across the skills.

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 Post subject: Re: Player Defined Skills
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:56 pm 
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Well, lets look at the whole thing again.

I did follow your link and liked the following item:

"How to use them? Everybody gets 4/3 skills. This means 4 skills for the better packet, and 3 for the other. So everybody gets 7 skills, unless one takes F priority in skills, in which case she will have 4 skills only."

higgins wrote:
Hm, so, in essence you'd like to go for even narrower skills than TROS currently has? How large number of skills do you see this system having?


Well the intent is to have zero skills in the system, so for example, using your idea of seven starting skills, at character creation a player would define/create the seven skills (or stack bonuses for a smaller, but more advanced skillset; see final paragraph) that were important to his vision of what his character should be able to do skill-wise.

higgins wrote:
One must constantly aware of of his whole set of skills. Basically every skill use would mean going over your whole list trying to figure out whether something applies or not.


I don't necessarily consider this a bad thing. The selection of skills one chooses suddenly becomes more important. I could see skills created under this mod becoming much more intuitive in game play, as players now think more about their skills and how combining them affects their game play.

Kind of the way that a setting you invent is much more familiar to you than a published setting, because you wrote every word of it and know it on a level you will never know the boxed setting.

higgins wrote:
Also, is the +2 meant to have some effect on the CP as well?


I am musing on the idea of an applied skill simply providing a +2CP bonus to a skill roll, and the GM and player defining the difficulty level of the attempt. This would be a deliberate move away from skills with fixed TNs, instead leaving the TN as situational, with player and GM agreeing upon a difficulty level. If one wanted to "improve" a skill, perhaps with the expenditure of 5 SA points, an additional +2CP bonus could be purchased/stacked in the same skill. I think I kinda dig this minimalist approach to skills in which only the precise skill thats important to a player is on his plate. It seems very clean and very much in the spirit of TROS.

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: Player Defined Skills
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:13 pm 
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pbj44 wrote:
For example someone with “bear lore” could claim a +2 bonus to tracking a bear, a +2 bonus for an argument involving bears (say whether or not to go through the woods due to the danger of bears), +2 to hide from bear, +2 to find a bear that is hiding, +2 to spot a bear sneaking up on them.


Functionally, skills working like SAs. The player defines them. It is up to the player to justify their applicability in-scene.

I would vary the value based on the narrowness of the definition. If the definition is broad, +1. If the definition is typical, +2. If the definition is really narrow, +3.

I like the idea that skills are tailored to the character concept. Out of char-gen, I suspect it will make for characters that are very narrow (where skill packets make sure every character is quite broad) in capability but over time, as new skills are acquired and the character becomes less one dimensional, I think characters will become more rounded -- especially if skills must devolve from the in-game experiences. It would be interesting to see how this system applies over the long term.

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 Post subject: Re: Player Defined Skills
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:55 pm 
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pbj44 wrote:
Well the intent is to have zero skills in the system
Zero? What do you mean by zero if you described survival skill (bear hunting) being a combination of 4 more specific skills? TROS has 70 skills, so, I imagine your system to total some 280 skills to cover the whole spectrum.

pbj44 wrote:
so for example, using your idea of seven starting skills, at character creation a player would define/create the seven skills (or stack bonuses for a smaller, but more advanced skillset; see final paragraph) that were important to his vision of what his character should be able to do skill-wise.
I think I can sort of understand the idea. You imagine your character in some situations he's supposed to be good at and then separate the situation into certain elements that can be later be combined at will. As said, I think the +2 effect from D&D brings an analogy for this effect. I also think it would lead to "gaps" (see below).

pbj44 wrote:
higgins wrote:
One must constantly aware of of his whole set of skills. Basically every skill use would mean going over your whole list trying to figure out whether something applies or not.
I don't necessarily consider this a bad thing. The selection of skills one chooses suddenly becomes more important. I could see skills created under this mod becoming much more intuitive in game play, as players now think more about their skills and how combining them affects their game play.

Kind of the way that a setting you invent is much more familiar to you than a published setting, because you wrote every word of it and know it on a level you will never know the boxed setting.
I can understand the point, but that also forces the players focus more on the mechanical side of the play, and I personally wouldn't encourage it for that reason, as I prefer the mechanics as invisible as possible.

I also believe broader skills to be more intuitive and this is why I linked to this other thread. There you have broad skills, but if you allow using speciality (ie "bears") bonus dice freely on any skill, I believe you can achieve the similar effect with much less complexity and less gaps.

By gaps I mean... Since there is no base skill, no defaulting... then this magnificent +8 hunter would be totally helpless in another forest if he needed to survive on berries for example and I don't think that would make much sense in most contexts.

Sorry if that's sounds pessimistic, but I've come to prefer broader skills for a reason. Which of course doesn't mean that you shouldn't go for your idea. :oops:

P.S.
Also, instead of what you proposed... have you considered going COMPLETELY the opposite way? Check out the free excerpts from Over the Edge to see what I mean. While totally opposite of your idea, it actually seems to share many common characteristics and being intuitive is chiefly among them (and without the "gaps"). It would definitely interesting to hear your view on OtE.

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"Brothels are a much sounder investment than ships, I've found. Whores seldom sink, and when they are boarded by pirates, why, the pirates pay good coin like everyone else."
- Lord Petyr Baelish, A Game of Thrones


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 Post subject: Re: Player Defined Skills
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:08 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
Functionally, skills working like SAs. The player defines them. It is up to the player to justify their applicability in-scene.


Exactly!

Ian.Plumb wrote:
I would vary the value based on the narrowness of the definition. If the definition is broad, +1. If the definition is typical, +2. If the definition is really narrow, +3.


This is a good idea that I will add to this mod.

Ian.Plumb wrote:
I like the idea that skills are tailored to the character concept. Out of char-gen, I suspect it will make for characters that are very narrow (where skill packets make sure every character is quite broad) in capability but over time, as new skills are acquired and the character becomes less one dimensional, I think characters will become more rounded -- especially if skills must devolve from the in-game experiences. It would be interesting to see how this system applies over the long term.


This is how I see it. The skill list a player creates might be a little spartan at first, but as the list grows and evolves it becomes more attuned the player and thus more meaningful in play.

@higgins - Please understand that the initial skills can be a narrow or as broad as the player wishes to define them. Thanks to Ian's suggestion there will certainly be an advantage to taking a sharply defined skill (+3) over a broad based skill (+1), but both choices are available nonetheless.

I have no problem with "gaps" (a broad-based default safety net) as you define them. A player will simply be able to apply a skill or not. Certainly there should be many challanges that characters are simply inexperienced with, making the use of an applicable skill all the more meaningful. I will post an update once I've had a chance to test it for a while.

Phil


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