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 Post subject: Trivium
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:33 am 
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Hey. Long time.

I was thinking of making up a character with an Academic background...among other things. I wanted to replicate to some extent the Trivium and Quadivium of medieval universities.
Trivium: grammar, rhetoric and logic (dialectic)
Quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music.

The Academic package includes (among other things): read/write, orate plus four lore/knowledge/language skills and an ancient language.

Any thoughts on fitting these 'skills' into the academic package?

Grammar could fall under Read & write or perhaps ancient language (eg Latin)

Rhetoric could fall under Orate

A 'Mathematics' skill might contain arithmetic and geometry with music and astronomy separate skills. I wouldn't know where to put logic, but it seems a waste to use it as an actual skill. That would leave one 'hobby' extra language or additional field of study (medicine, theology or law).

OR one could just give Trivium and Quadrivium as skills.

Any thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: Trivium
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:23 pm 
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toli wrote:
Hey. Long time.


Heh Toli!

toli wrote:
I was thinking of making up a character with an Academic background...among other things. I wanted to replicate to some extent the Trivium and Quadivium of medieval universities.

Trivium: grammar, rhetoric and logic (dialectic)
Quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music.

The Academic package includes (among other things): read/write, orate plus four lore/knowledge/language skills and an ancient language.

...

OR one could just give Trivium and Quadrivium as skills.


This is an interesting question which, conceptually, applies to many different things. In essence -- what level of abstraction is appropriate?

For example, if you make grammar, rhetoric, logic (dialectic), arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music individual skills then a character with an academic background will have a lot of skills to improve in order to improve his standing amongst academics. Most of the player's SA spend will have to be directed towards developing these skills for the player to see regular improvement.

On the other hand, if Trivium and Quadrivium become skills that all academics have access to then any character who has been schooled can afford to commit an MA spend to get one or both of those skills. Nowhere near as much development required means more characters can afford to head down that path to a greater or lesser degree.

In the end, the decision on which way to go depends on how central these skills are going to be to playing in the gaming environment. If, for example, much of the game is going to center around one of the great universities and success or otherwise is going to rely on the subtle application of academic skills then you need detail in those skills and a detailed skill resolution (similar to Social Combat). On the other hand if the academic character will occasionally need to demonstrate his academic strengths but most of the time the game is about other things then abstracting to a couple of skills is a better idea.

For me this dichotomy of granularity versus abstraction is one that can determine whether a player's character concept works -- or doesn't.

By the way, have you read:

Censure and Heresy at the University of Paris, 1200-1400 (The Middle Ages Series) by J. M. M. H. Thijssen

It details three cases of academics who published papers that eventually led to some level of problem with the Church. For a very long time I have wanted to run a game set in the University of Paris around these central issues of academic pursuit, church authority, and academic skulduggery.

Anyway, great topic and I look forward to hearing more about this character.

Regards,

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Ian Plumb
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 Post subject: Re: Trivium
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:48 pm 
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Hi Ian.

I understand you point about lumping skills. Seven separate skills seems overdone, especially since they probably would never be used. Who's gonna roll grammar?

Seems to me that the Trivium could just fall under the combination of Read/Write and Orate. That would leave four skills, which could either be done separately or lumped.

I'm inclined to lump arithmetic & geometry under 'mathematics'. They seem similar enough in game terms to lump. While some of the specific subject matter might differe slightly, the use would be similar. Astronomy and music while employing math seem to be different topics overall. That is you could be a great mathematician but have no interest in Astronomy and not know specific subject matter.

This lumping would also leave one extra skill...for an additional language or hobby lore etc.

Taking two academic packages would add law, theology or medicine...

I was also trying to figure out 'artists' as well. Craftsman get only one craft, but in actuallity many rinascimento 'artists' were skilled in a wide range of artistic disciplines (painting, sculpture, architechture/engineering) and some artistic skills (painting, scuplture) would have limited scientific applications (chemistry, architechture).


Hope you are all well.
NT


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 Post subject: Re: Trivium
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:12 am 
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toli wrote:
I understand you point about lumping skills. Seven separate skills seems overdone, especially since they probably would never be used. Who's gonna roll grammar?


Yes indeed.

Imagine for a moment that our scenario is set in the University of Paris. All PCs are connected directly or indirectly to the University and it is a constant in the campaign. In the current scenario there is a backdrop task. A group of University members have been set the task of determining whether a particular old manuscript is authentic. Now this isn't what the scenario is about -- this is simply wallpaper, an ongoing exercise that everyone is involved in that will culminate during the scenario. It is the PCs day job if you like.

Now I could see all the skills of Trivium and Quadrivium being used regularly in this task -- used to verify the accuracy of the content, comparing it to other extent works of the author, comparing it to works of other authors, and in discussing the work with other academics. As such the individual skills would be important, and across the PC group you could cover all of the skills to a high degree of capability -- a multi-disciplinary group...

For myself I would lean half-way. I would replace Core's similar skills with Trivium and Quadrivium -- but also require the player to nominate one of the skills that belong to each of Trivium and Quadrivium as their specialization. That would reduce the number of skills while still allowing each academic character to look different, or establish a particular reputation.

toli wrote:
I was also trying to figure out 'artists' as well. Craftsman get only one craft, but in actuallity many rinascimento 'artists' were skilled in a wide range of artistic disciplines (painting, sculpture, architechture/engineering) and some artistic skills (painting, scuplture) would have limited scientific applications (chemistry, architechture).


Specialisation is an anachronism if applied to the middle ages, IMO. A farmer typically raised animals, had an orchard, planted crops, and kept bees if he was fortunate. Very little required so much study that it wasn't possible to learn all you needed to know to master a skill if you spent time studying or doing other things. This isn't to say that a person's job meant they didn't specialise in doing the one thing and doing it well -- it just means they probably knew how to do other things and could quite easily change jobs if needed. A character with many skills at a great variety of levels is a more realistic character than one with narrow skills honed to perfection. Something else to address in EoS...

Regards,

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Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
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 Post subject: Re: Trivium
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:34 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
For myself I would lean half-way. I would replace Core's similar skills with Trivium and Quadrivium -- but also require the player to nominate one of the skills that belong to each of Trivium and Quadrivium as their specialization. That would reduce the number of skills while still allowing each academic character to look different, or establish a particular reputation.


Not a bad approach.

I think you're right though about how it fits into the campaign. Lots of specific skill in a subject area might be useful if the story revolves around that topic. We have lots of different weapons and proficiencies. If the skills are for 'flavor' then you could lump more heavily. I frequently make characters with 'flavor' skills--ones they might not use much, but which help to describe them.

As for specialization...I agree. It is a more recent trend. That is true in many fields, especially science (mine). I was thinking of a Gift..Renaisance Man...like Jack of All trades, but more specific/limited (science, humanities, art, not all skills) but a little more powerful (TN 7 or 8) than Jack of Trades.

Ciao...

NT


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 Post subject: Re: Trivium
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:51 am 
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Hi Toli!

I'd lump 'em like that for standard TROS skill granularity:

Read/write: grammar
Orate: rhetoric and logic (dialectic)
Mathematics: arithmetic, geometry
Astronomy

Music is actually two skills in core: Musical instrument and Singing

Ian.Plumb wrote:
For myself I would lean half-way. I would replace Core's similar skills with Trivium and Quadrivium -- but also require the player to nominate one of the skills that belong to each of Trivium and Quadrivium as their specialization. That would reduce the number of skills while still allowing each academic character to look different, or establish a particular reputation.
Actually, that's the main issue I have with the concept of skill packets. The specialisation dice bonus is weak compared to the TN influence and I don't think it can be applied out of the character creation either. I still hold my view that a game with a unifying theme should have its own Proficiencies -- Academic Proficiencies in the hypothetical University of Paris game for example. Proficiencies would allow a highly skilled character with many defaults in the other common areas of his field and would also fix the sameness issue.

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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: Trivium
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:10 pm 
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higgins wrote:
Music is actually two skills in core: Musical instrument and Singing

I still hold my view that a game with a unifying theme should have its own Proficiencies -- Academic Proficiencies in the hypothetical University of Paris game for example. Proficiencies would allow a highly skilled character with many defaults in the other common areas of his field and would also fix the sameness issue.


Music in the Quadrivium sense is music theory, I believe--not necessarily proficiency with the instument. The quadrivium was about numbers: Numbers themselves (arithmatic), numbers in space (geometry), numbers in time (Music) and numbers in motion (Astronomy).

It would be nice to have the system unified. However, you could also default off of skills as normal.

Ciao
NT


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 Post subject: Re: Trivium
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:29 pm 
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Ah, yes, that's different.

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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: Trivium
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:51 pm 
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I'm going to stop to be affraid to post now.

I find the topic fascinating. I must say, campaigns based on something else than combat are wonderful indeed when done well.

For this, I pretty much agree with Ian, what level of abstraction is required is dependant on the focus of the campaign.

Perhaps, If the campaign is based heavily on scholars trying to establish their reputations, then maybe have a system of social combat pretty much like actual sword combat.

One could have, say, a debate pool and debate proficiencies based on sophisms. Individual proficiencies could include Appeals to Joy, Fear, Pity, Reputation and Reason. The way I see it, Debators could use a social skill as a weapon, say the ridicule skill. Next, they can use it against the audience (increase own appeal to Joy, uses the Joy proficiency), the opponent (reduce his appeal to Reputation, uses the reputation proficiency) or the thesis (reduce the appeal to Reason, uses the reason proficiency).

Similarly, the intimidate skill could be another "weapon" whose effect, against the audience would be to raise your appeal to fear, against the opponent to reduce his appeal to fear and have no effect against the thesis.

The goal might be either to make yourself appear as an authority (raise your total debate pool to a target), or tho discredit the opposition (reduce any one of his pools to zero).

That's the outline of how I could see debates in a game that focuses heavily on them. The rest is just a question of game balance.

How I see it is that each character have a base starting pool in each appeal, and a number of successes increase the pool to a new level.

one success : pool raised to three or stays the same
Two successes : pool raised to four
Three successes : pool raised to five
Four S : pool raised to seven
Five S pool raised to nine
6 S : Pool raised to ten/ argument won if pool aldready at ten.
7+ Success : instant win.

when trying to discredit, The opposing pool could be reduced by

1 : 1/4
2 : 1/3
3 : 1/2 or down by one
4 : 2/3 or down by one
5 : down to one or down by one.
6 : down to 0 (instant win).

If an argument is not responded by the same kind of appeal, (a joy met with a joy, a fear met with a fear) then on the following turn, and only the following turn, the corresponding pools get the same raw increase/decrease.

Suppose I made an appeal to fear to reduce his fear (currently at 6) and made 2 success, his fear is down by 2 (currently at 4). If he doesn't respond with an argument going around fear, on his next turn, his fear will drop by two again (sitting at 2).

I got a little carried away here. XD.

For the skills thought, I think giving Trium as a skill and one or two more just to differentiate in what he is exceedingly good, is a smart idea.


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 Post subject: Re: Trivium
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:25 pm 
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Jack Jack wrote:
Perhaps, If the campaign is based heavily on scholars trying to establish their reputations, then maybe have a system of social combat pretty much like actual sword combat.

One could have, say, a debate pool and debate proficiencies based on sophisms. Individual proficiencies could include Appeals to Joy, Fear, Pity, Reputation and Reason. The way I see it, Debators could use a social skill as a weapon, say the ridicule skill. Next, they can use it against the audience (increase own appeal to Joy, uses the Joy proficiency), the opponent (reduce his appeal to Reputation, uses the reputation proficiency) or the thesis (reduce the appeal to Reason, uses the reason proficiency).


I think in Toli's case -- a character who is an academic "among other things" -- academic life is the character's job while the "among other things" is the more game-orientated facet of the character. So the character will participate in an active, combat-orientated game but their outward appearance is far more staid. In his particular case I don't think much emphasis needs to be placed on resolving academic conflict -- but the character should still look like a medieval academic.

That aside I like this idea a lot.

I really like the five Appeals. That is neat. I like the idea that a variety of social skills can be used to make an Appeal. I like the idea that certain social skills would be more or less appropriate in particular circumstances or to particular audiences. Using ridicule in a learned debate might convince the audience that you don't have a solid logical argument even as they laugh at the joke. Using rhetoric during a drunken discussion at a tavern might convince the audience that you are pompous, even if they accept the logic of your argument.

There is definitely food for thought here.

Regards,

_________________
Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program


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