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Skills. How Many are Too Many?


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BRP (and variants) has a lot of skills. Not GURPS level amount of skills, but enough that there's 3 skills to notice something (Listen, Sense, Spot) and oddly specific ones like Gaming, Fly, and Psychotherapy. Much the same with Mythras. Revolution takes this down to something like 15. 

Yeah, I know, toolkits, I can add/remove. Do people generally game with the out-of-the-box character sheets and skills or do you actually trim them down at your table?

I used to really get into discrete skills, but increasingly I find it more distracting. It generates more questions for new players and GMs have to make more calls as to what skill is most appropriate. As a player, I find I have a lot of skills that are generally garbage and a few decent ones - even after 20 some sessions. I'm in a CoC game and run a Fate/Atomic Robo game. The latter has 13 skills and it doesn't seem like players are missing anything. Would BRP/d100 systems be better served with fewer skills in general?

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100% (ya see what I did there?) a matter of personal/table preference.

I often see it expressed that you should NOT have all the skills in a given BRP game... specifically, that a well-tuned suite of skills goes a long way to establishing the setting, the genre, the tone/feel of the game.

YBRPMV -- and it assuredly should V!

 

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If this kind of things bother you, and some related topic did bother me, have a look at Revolution D100

(Download the SRD for free)

 

Also, this weekend, friend lend me a copy of Conan 2D20. Dunno if it's any better in this regard. But it's another leveless classless skill based system that is not from the D100 family, so I am curious to see how it feels...

 

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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This is one reason I like Mythras.  There's just over 20 standard skills, and the rest are professional skills (available by culture and career during chargen, or special training later), of which a starting character might only have a half dozen tops.  Mythras also keeps things under control by distinguishing between general skills and specialized skills.  

Having said that, I wouldn't want to simplify the skill list much more.  Since most BRP-family games don't have advantages & disadvantages, skills really help differentiate characters from one another.  

 

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46 minutes ago, dieselpunk said:

Would BRP/d100 systems be better served with fewer skills in general?

It  depends on personal preferences and  the style of play. I've had no problem with the large skill list in  most BRP games, but I've also had fun running a BRP-similar game such as the James  Bond RPG, where characters only have 15 skills to choose from. It really just comes down  to trades offs and preferences.  If you roll all melee weapons into a single skill then a character will be  good with  any melee weapon. That's great for a game where the PCs are supposed to be ultra competent such a s Bond, Star Trek, or most superhero comics, but might not be desirable if you want to run a grittier game- say a Roman Gladiator campaign where weapons used and combat styles should matter.

 

36 minutes ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Also, this weekend, friend lend me a copy of Conan 2D20. Dunno if it's any better in this regard. But it's another leveless classless skill based system that is not from the D100 family, so I am curious to see how it feels...

 

Star Trek 2d20 might be closer to the mark  for you. It boils skills down to only  6 disciplines, which makes it much easier to create a star fleet officer who is good at almost everything, but at the expense of  making hard for a character not to be good at something..  

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1 minute ago, Atgxtg said:
41 minutes ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Also, this weekend, friend lend me a copy of Conan 2D20. Dunno if it's any better in this regard. But it's another leveless classless skill based system that is not from the D100 family, so I am curious to see how it feels...

 

Star Trek 2d20 might be closer to the mark  for you. It boils skills down to only  6 disciplines, which makes it much easier to create a star fleet officer who is good at almost everything, but at the expense of  making hard for a character not to be good at something..  

Mmm... what am I looking for exactly?
I quite like Revolution D100 so far! :D

But I am curious to see if I could find another levelless classless skill based system which is cool! :P 

 

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8 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Also, this weekend, friend lend me a copy of Conan 2D20. Dunno if it's any better in this regard. But it's another leveless classless skill based system that is not from the D100 family, so I am curious to see how it feels...

Conan 2D20 has a line manager who perhaps knows something about BRP, so some concepts might have transpired from one game to the other.

7 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

If you roll all melee weapons into a single skill then a character will be  good with  any melee weapon. That's great for a game where the PCs are supposed to be ultra competent such a s Bond, Star Trek, or most superhero comics, but might not be desirable if you want to run a grittier game- say a Roman Gladiator campaign where weapons used and combat styles should matter.

And this is why in Revolution we compensate the single skill for Close Combat with the specalization given by Traits. You are generally good at anything, but only excel in the specific weapons you have studied.

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11 hours ago, dieselpunk said:

BRP (and variants) has a lot of skills. Not GURPS level amount of skills, but enough that there's 3 skills to notice something (Listen, Sense, Spot) and oddly specific ones like Gaming, Fly, and Psychotherapy. Much the same with Mythras. Revolution takes this down to something like 15. 

Yeah, I know, toolkits, I can add/remove. Do people generally game with the out-of-the-box character sheets and skills or do you actually trim them down at your table?

I used to really get into discrete skills, but increasingly I find it more distracting. It generates more questions for new players and GMs have to make more calls as to what skill is most appropriate. As a player, I find I have a lot of skills that are generally garbage and a few decent ones - even after 20 some sessions. I'm in a CoC game and run a Fate/Atomic Robo game. The latter has 13 skills and it doesn't seem like players are missing anything. Would BRP/d100 systems be better served with fewer skills in general?

These days, a BRP (actually, RQ) character sheet looks to me like a collection of stuff I have little to no chance to succeed in.

I originally switched to RQ (3, in a setting of my own) because I wanted to have the simulationist rules with a "increase skills through on the job application" mechanic (the skill checks) and no such unnecessary ballast as levels or experience points.

 

Nowadays, I think that the skills should be something like breakout-abilities from raw talent (the skill category basic ability, like e.g. Communication, Perception) increased to a sensible chance at success for everyday abilities (like e.g. Listen, Scan) that can still be made harder by situational impediments (like bad lighting, weathering, ...).

It is ok if the game tells me what are my chances. It sucks if the game tells me I have no realistic chance at success at anything but a very few exceptions.

Foreign languages - you'll slowly get into that, by exposure. Think "The Thirteenth Warrior".

There are some skills that require fundamental training. Literacy, for instance. But the initial learning should push you up to an applicable skill. In case of doubt, a skill that tells my how much longer my character needs to finish the task as opposed to someone fluent in that script and language.

 

Having an alternative skill at high proficiency should be another form of getting a decent chance to develop a new breakout skill. No player complains about new skills as rewards. Players will complain about new skills as barriers that prevent them from agency.

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

These days, a BRP (actually, RQ) character sheet looks to me like a collection of stuff I have little to no chance to succeed in.

That''s in large part becuase the game tracks  every skill or nearly every skill, incluing ones that a player has no intention of ever raising. At least 90% of the character's I've seen in RQ3 never raised their mineral lore.

 

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Nowadays, I think that the skills should be something like breakout-abilities from raw talent (the skill category basic ability, like e.g. Communication, Perception) increased to a sensible chance at success for everyday abilities (like e.g. Listen, Scan) that can still be made harder by situational impediments (like bad lighting, weathering, ...).

I agree. For instance someone could have a melee score at 30% or so and then improve sword from there. If they later pick up an axe, they can use their 30%, and go up from there. That could reduce the number of skills tracked on a character sheet from a hundred down to maybe a dozen.

 

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

It is ok if the game tells me what are my chances. It sucks if the game tells me I have no realistic chance at success at anything but a very few exceptions.

But that is more a case of tracking all the stuff you don't know. In real life there armor things that any one person would fail at than succeed at, because no one has over 50% in every skill. For instance most people don't know much about electronics or how to fly an airplane, yet they ar eon the character sheet in CoC.  I think  the problem there isn't that you should have a chance of doing those things,  but in that  you bother to track those scores in the first place. The only time someone without piloting skill is going to try and fly an airplane is when they have no other choice, and frankly those situations could just be hanbdled as easily with a difficult luck roll. 

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Having an alternative skill at high proficiency should be another form of getting a decent chance to develop a new breakout skill. No player complains about new skills as rewards. Players will complain about new skills as barriers that prevent them from agency.

Yeah, I used to use the similar skill rule,  and let the  new skill start at half of the related skill. This represents stuff like someone not being able to have a high skill in Physics or Engineering without some understanding of mathematics.

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5 minutes ago, SDLeary said:

Sounds like people want the return of Root/Branch skills! :)

 

Some of us. What I think I'd like is to make the skill categories the default and go from there. That way every  character would have a  few skills that they are good at to use most of the time, plus ahalf dozen generic skills on their sheet that they could use for everything else. Simple, easy and a lot less bookkeeping.

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Revolution D100 does just that guys, check it out! ;)
Not quite a tree as the game designer is wary of tree.. but it has base general skill value and lots of specialisation / stunts...
When I saw that (and the toughness attribute) I knew I had to give it a go! 😅

Free official SRD that way:

 

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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5 hours ago, SDLeary said:

Sounds like people want the return of Root/Branch skills! :)

SDLeary

One could do it that way, with increasing "branching" specializations of "root skills."   Or one take it in the reverse direction, with only specialties listed, but Similar/Related skills.

For example:  a skill in "Physics" might imply a Similar Skill (half or two thirds?) in Engineering, Mathematics, etc; or a skill in "Longsword" could imply 2/3 skill with any 1-H sword, and 1/3 skill with any 1-H weapon at all, and with 2-H swords or daggers/knives.  Details are left as an exercise for the gamer.

"Related/Similar" specialties would be easier to learn; or you could build up new specialties easier because your base/root skill were already solid.

I believe that the actual as-rolled character abilities would be virtually identical; it's just a matter of what works best for people to conceptualize it.  With a bit of effort, one could actually build mechanics whose effect is identical, and present both conceptual frameworks for the reader(s) to choose, so either perspective is valid...

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