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27 June 2013 @ 08:27 pm
Dungeons & Design 9: Skills Again  
a.k.a.: Why do I need an Etiquette skill if I wrote "Lore (Nobility)" for a lifepath? I guess that's the natural problem if I try to make a closed skill system but leave skills that are open to expansion.

Right now, I'm thinking about dumping Etiquette, adding a basic "Culture" skill that applies to different cultural groups, writing down some example Lore skills, and then stealing from Shadowrun and giving people a pool of points to pick only Culture and Lore skills, in addition to the stuff they get from lifepaths and maybe a bit from a lump of free points after the lifepaths to round things out a bit, World of Darkness-style.

So then, instead of Lore (Nobility), that skill would have been Culture (X Nobility), where X is a specific kind of nobility if their culture is different enough to need its own skill, or otherwise just Culture (X). Then more Culture and Lore skills would get added on as they go through lifepaths. I'll probably have Lore (Arcane), Lore (History), Lore (Natural Philosophy) [as the catchall pre-Scientific Revolution science skill], Lore (Otherworld) [about spirits and so on--I prefer animism to typical D&D polytheism], Lore (Dark Magic), and then probably a couple specific lores for the setting I'm thinking of, like Lore (Lifeshaping) and Lore (Stormsmithing).

This is ending up like WFRP's division between "Common Knowledge" and "Academic Knowledge." Common Knowledge is stuff about "the Empire" or "the Dwarves" or what have you, like Culture, and Academic Knowledge has subdivisions like Astrology and Herbalism and Magic and The Arts. I don't mind copying that structure, though, because it works.

I should add a Tactics advanced skill, too, if I want to include any kind of higher-tier subgame. Maybe also a Seneschal one, like Dark Ages Vampire. I always loved the name of that skill for managing property in Ye Darke Ages. Also, why is Animal Training an advanced skill? That would have made it impossible to ever domesticate anything--can't learn how to it without trying but can't roll checks untrained, therefore pet dogs and cats don't exist. I think not.

That does mean most of the LOLNO skills are magical in nature or stuff where you either know it or you don't, but that's not unreasonable, I think. That prevents one of the problems with skill systems, where it becomes impossible for people to be competent without a huge outlay of points in the beginning. Reading Alternity really brings that home for me--it has a neat mechanic and I like the system, but the skills are a horrific monstrosity. I mean, "Deduction" is a skill used to make leaps of logic that the character would know but the player wouldn't, and one of the examples is a starship engineer figuring out what's wrong with the engine. So what's the point of the engineering skill if you don't roll it to diagnose problems? Beats me!

Or having "Teach" as a skill that gives you an XP boost, which is one of the most blatant ways to encourage annoying metagaming that I've ever seen. Though I suppose traveling around the galaxy to find teachers for the dozens of skills you want to learn is a good way to spark adventures.

Anyway, I'll get to magic one of these days. I promise.
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