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LORES - how do you handle them?


Trifletraxor

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So, how do you handle Lores and knowledge? My first houserule back in the days was to allow improvement rolls for lores too - as knowing something critical for a certain situation would "stimulate" the character to learn more. Now I've dropped them all together. Former Lores I now handle as INT rolls, with modifiers based on how much knowledge the individual character would have on the general subject. Do you see any problems with dropping Lores as skills?

SGL.

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Yes, I do see problems in it. This way, an INT 18 character knows almost everything in the Universe, which is not correct.

There is however, one big design problem in having too many Lores as skills, as they "waste" a lot of points and do not increase with use like other skills. This surfaced during the editing phase of Merrie England for BRP, and I was tempted to introduce a new system in order to determine in a non-arbitrary way what a character can know. We decided to go with the standard system for Merrie England, but I will soon suggest (and publicly playtest) a new approach to the problem.

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Like Rosen suggested, I think that Lore skills are too important to drop, but feel there are too many of them. Especially when combined with research and sciences. For Classic Fantasy, I wanted all Lore, Science and Research skills to be able to fit on the character sheet so this involved paring them way down. What I ended up with was...

Academic Lore

Animal Training

Blasphemous Lore

Earth Lore

Folk Lore

Poison Lore

Politics

Religious Lore

Spell Lore

Streetwise

Wilderness Lore

This was a paring of over 40 skills and makes it far easier for academic types to be able to spend the required skill points to define their characters. For the most part, any skill roll that does not fall under one of the above skills is considered Academic Lore by default.

Like Trif, I let my players raise these skills with skill checks but never defined it as such in writing as I think each GM can best decide how to handle it in each situation.

RosenMcStern: We decided to go with the standard system for Merrie England, but I will soon suggest (and publicly playtest) a new approach to the problem.

Sounds interesting, cant wait to hear more.

Rod

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In my current game, I have six knowledge skills that are so broad I haven't had anyone use either of the two empty slots I put below them.

Before my Classic Fantasy game imploded, I had the knowledge skill list pared to six as well.

EDIT: I didn't even answer the question posed...

I don't like the ability check as a primary means of information retrieval. I'll give it out in special circumstances, but when that's all you use, it makes it too easy on them.

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Yes, I do see problems in it. This way, an INT 18 character knows almost everything in the Universe, which is not correct.

The INT 18 character wouldn't know everything in the universe, as the GM should modify the INT roll. Something the character should know would be an easy roll, something he would probably know would be a normal roll, something he could know would be a difficult roll and something he'd most probably wouldn't know would be a very difficult roll. High INT would be an advantage, but the background history would be what really counted. The GM would need to make a lot of "GM's calls" though.

but I will soon suggest (and publicly playtest) a new approach to the problem.

Please do!

I don't like lores as skills, as they're so different from all the physical, mental and magical skills. INT rolls modified by what the character would be expected to know suits my purpose at the moment. I'm pretty much using it the same way I used lores earlier.

SGL.

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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I've never played RuneQuest, so forgive a newbie's query ... but why would "Lore" be handled any differently than Knowledge or Science skills in BRP's Big Gold Book? I mean, Lore: Potions is the same as Science: Pharmacology, just a different genre. Surely a character could keep studying and "bone up" on such subjects to improve his skill levels over time. :?

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In Runequest, Lores were not checkable and thus could only be increased by training or research. This simulates that fact that Lores test only how much you know about a subject, whereas other skills test what you know but also how well you do it. Also, the theory was that Lores cannot be improved through experiential learning. If I ask you to shoot an arrow fifty times, chances are you'll get better at shooting an arrow. But if I ask you 'what's this plant' fifty times, you won't know what the plant is any better after the 50th time than you did after the first time.

My answer to questions like this about what skills to include/exclude is always the same: What do you imagine characters will do during the game? If they'll never use Mineral Lore, or even if they'll only use it once, why bother including it at all?

In our game, we reduced the Lores to Animal Lore (which includes animal handling), Herb Lore, Nature lore (for everything that isn't a plant or animal) and Area Lore (specific region, usually a kingdom) to cover all history, geography, politics, legends, etc. associated with that area. Lores aren't checkable, but when it comes time to roll skill checks, the GM will award checks to lores that would naturally have stood a chance of increase. Area Lores, for instance, would be granted a check if the PCs had spent a lot of time in that area. Animal Lore might increase if the PCs just completed a journey in the company of drovers.

We only use Idea rolls (intx5%) to simulate the power of Reason. An Idea roll might be called for if a player doesn't realize something that might be obvious to the character. It might be used for putting 2 and 2 together. It might be used if the Player has forgotten something that he learned in the game, but that the character has a reasonable chance of remembering (like the name of that priest in the last town).

I suppose if I wanted to use a characteristic to simulate lore rolls, I'd introduce EDU as a stat separate from INT and use that. That way someone could be foolish but well educated, or very smart but not necessarily know much about the world.

"Tell me what you found, not what you lost" Mesopotamian proverb

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I've never played RuneQuest, so forgive a newbie's query ... but why would "Lore" be handled any differently than Knowledge or Science skills in BRP's Big Gold Book? I mean, Lore: Potions is the same as Science: Pharmacology, just a different genre. Surely a character could keep studying and "bone up" on such subjects to improve his skill levels over time. :?

Lores and Knowledge skills are pretty much the same thing. What I'm having problem with is the concept of knowledge as a skill.

My answer to questions like this about what skills to include/exclude is always the same: What do you imagine characters will do during the game? If they'll never use Mineral Lore, or even if they'll only use it once, why bother including it at all?

What do you do when you run into "knowledge" rolls for which there is no skill?

Lores aren't checkable, but when it comes time to roll skill checks, the GM will award checks to lores that would naturally have stood a chance of increase. Area Lores, for instance, would be granted a check if the PCs had spent a lot of time in that area. Animal Lore might increase if the PCs just completed a journey in the company of drovers.

That is a good idea.

We only use Idea rolls (intx5%) to simulate the power of Reason.

I've started rolling stat rolls on the d20, but modify the stat rolls as normal, difficult (half stat) and very difficult (need a critical roll). I've almost stopped using the idea roll to simulate the power of reason though, as my players started asking for it every time they couldn't be bothered to think for themselves. ;)

I suppose if I wanted to use a characteristic to simulate lore rolls, I'd introduce EDU as a stat separate from INT and use that. That way someone could be foolish but well educated, or very smart but not necessarily know much about the world.

I don't think the EDU stat adds much. You can still have foolish but well educated and smart but ignorant characters using INT rolls. The foolish but educated guy would have normal or even easy INT rolls in all the fields that his education covered, while the smart and ignorant guy would have mostly difficult or very difficult rolls (at least in the areas in which he knew little).

But except skills, have anyone of you experienced with other ways of handling knowledge?

SGL.

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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Personally, I don't mind having a number of Science/Knowledge skills.

Merrie England did have a number of different Science and Knowledge skills, but they were all different (or should have been once I'd deleted the duplicates). However, I'm in the "More Skills" camp rather than the "Fewer Skills" camp.

I can see the problem of having a situation where a knowledge skill is required that nobody has, but the same could apply to any skill - need to pick someone's pocket but don't have the skill - tough!

If you apply some common sense to Knowledge and Science skills then they can be used as written in the rules. So, someone with Science (Mathematics) could use it for arithmetic, geometry and maybe simple physics. Depending on the setting, each Knowledge/Science skill would cover different areas and levels of skill, so what is known by a medieval scholar would be very different to what is known by a 25th Century scientist.

I am not keen on using a Knowledge roll as a way of abstracting all knowledge/science situations - it makes it a very powerful characteristic and means that the GM or the players need a list of modifiers for every situation. It's a very cumbersome approach, in my opinion.

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What do you do when you run into "knowledge" rolls for which there is no skill?

I don't know. I've never had it happen. I wracking my brain now trying to think of something that's not covered by a knowledge or other skill and can't. Can you?

I've started rolling stat rolls on the d20, but modify the stat rolls as normal, difficult (half stat) and very difficult (need a critical roll). I've almost stopped using the idea roll to simulate the power of reason though, as my players started asking for it every time they couldn't be bothered to think for themselves. ;)

That's too bad. I haven't had this problem so far. We use IDEA rolls very infrequently, so it probably doesn't occur to them to ask. I would deny any use that didn't seem appropriate, though.

One thing that does happen is when I ask if they succeeded in a roll, they'll often say "Yes, I made an 'easy'" which sounds like a 'yes' but really means 'no'.

I don't think the EDU stat adds much. You can still have foolish but well educated and smart but ignorant characters using INT rolls. The foolish but educated guy would have normal or even easy INT rolls in all the fields that his education covered, while the smart and ignorant guy would have mostly difficult or very difficult rolls (at least in the areas in which he knew little).

Right, but then you're just replacing a list of knowledge skills with a single knowledge skill and a list of modifiers, which boils down to the same thing, in my mind.

But except skills, have anyone of you experienced with other ways of handling knowledge?

This doesn't get away from skills, but here's how we handle languages: We have a single skill called 'Languages'. Each PC automatically knows their own language, plus they can know one other for each full 10% they have in languages . Thus someone with a 35% skill in languages will know their own + 3 others. Knowing a language is something you either do or don't. Once you know it, communication is not an issue. If you meet someone whose language you can't speak, then you must roll on 'Languages' to communicate. If you succeed, you're knowledge of languages in general is enough to allow you to communicate in general terms using signs, gestures, expressions, etc. We did this because, although it's fun to roleplay communication problems, we didn't want to do it all the time, and our campaign is a travelling type campaign with the PCs always going to different lands.

In theory you could do the same with 'knowledges'. For each 10% in the broad skill of knowledge, you could add another discipline you no longer have to roll for. If you want you could divide it into more than one category, too. You could have a single skill called 'Science and Nature' and another called 'Humanities', each with its own set of disciplines that could be listed beneath it.

"Tell me what you found, not what you lost" Mesopotamian proverb

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I'm for reducing the skill list to an absolute minimum in any genre. I certainly don't expand the list of "Lores" in a fantasy game - I don't think there is anything not covered by those in the rulebook. If there is a case where one of the PCs is a sage or similar, then I might introduce something more specialised. But you can bet there will be very little need for it in the course of a campaign, because if there was the rest of the group would think the whole game was built around this one guy and his "Sub-Gloranthan Siege Lore" skill.

There's a little more leeway in SF games, because technology tends to create specialisation, but still I would only introduce extra knowledge skills if they are as frequently-used as other skills. Otherwise, again, it's time to hire a specialist NPC. I don't know, maybe I'm still influenced by my early days of Expert D&D and hiring sages if you want to know anything. :P

What I'm trying to say is that such specialised skills belong with NPCs rather than PCs, because they are either too little-used or too pivotal. I don't, however, advocate replacing Lore or knowledge skills with INT rolls, because knowledge is learned and Idea rolls are for problem-solving. Know rolls make sense, but I don't like EDU because it's too generic. A PC with a high EDU knows everything and someone with a low EDU knows almost nothing if you rely on Know rolls, unless you introduce a lot of GM-fiat modifiers based on the character's background - and then you're back into flying by the seat of your GM-pants. Which is fine if you and your players are comfortable with that.

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I don't know. I've never had it happen. I wracking my brain now trying to think of something that's not covered by a knowledge or other skill and can't. Can you?

There's no knowledge that can't be covered by a knowledge skill, but usually you end up with some generalized skills which you need to modify. For example if a character wants to know something about a troll god and has almost no prior experience with trolls, and wants to use his world lore or general knowledge skill. You would end up having to give him a hefty modifier, and this is often the case, as generalized knowledge or lore skills don't really cover everything to the same degree.

One thing that does happen is when I ask if they succeeded in a roll, they'll often say "Yes, I made an 'easy'" which sounds like a 'yes' but really means 'no'.

Sneaky! :7

Right, but then you're just replacing a list of knowledge skills with a single knowledge skill and a list of modifiers, which boils down to the same thing, in my mind.

Yes, that's exactly what I've done (except the modifier list, I just use easy, normal, difficult, very difficult and impossible as I see fit, as I do for all skills). I've allways used a lot of modifiers when the players call for knowledge or lore rolls. It's always been a question of "How likely is the character to know this?". That question has always been more important to me than the character's actual skill. Dumping the skills and reducing it to a modified INT roll boils it down to that question alone. It's a GM's call.

This doesn't get away from skills, but here's how we handle languages: We have a single skill called 'Languages'. Each PC automatically knows their own language, plus they can know one other for each full 10% they have in languages .

This basically eliminates the common language skill problems. I like it. I've removed languages as skills too, replacing it with a list of languages and a 1-5 number giving the degree of competency, but your solution is a good quick fix.

In theory you could do the same with 'knowledges'. For each 10% in the broad skill of knowledge, you could add another discipline you no longer have to roll for. If you want you could divide it into more than one category, too. You could have a single skill called 'Science and Nature' and another called 'Humanities', each with its own set of disciplines that could be listed beneath it.

That assumes you know 100% of everything within the disciplines you don't have to roll for. I find knowledge to be a bit too complex to be solved that way.

However, I'm in the "More Skills" camp rather than the "Fewer Skills" camp.

I know. I was there before too, but now I'm in the reductionist camp. ;)

I can see the problem of having a situation where a knowledge skill is required that nobody has, but the same could apply to any skill - need to pick someone's pocket but don't have the skill - tough!

But you could still try! Modified sleight roll, DEX roll or whatever.

I am not keen on using a Knowledge roll as a way of abstracting all knowledge/science situations - it makes it a very powerful characteristic and means that the GM or the players need a list of modifiers for every situation. It's a very cumbersome approach, in my opinion.

I'd still say your background and the GM's evaluation of your chance of knowing the specific piece of information would be what's most important, not the actual stat itself, though a high INT would help. No modifier list would be needed, as no such list can be made for all situations. But the GM would be needed to make frequent judgment calls, which you also really need to do when you have a list of knowledge skills. Of course, you would need to be comfortable with this, but then it's a very quick and easy approach.

I don't, however, advocate replacing Lore or knowledge skills with INT rolls, because knowledge is learned and Idea rolls are for problem-solving. Know rolls make sense, but I don't like EDU because it's too generic.

I don't like the EDU stat either, as it adds to little to the game. I'd say knowledge would still be learned even if you use INT rolls. High INT would give you some higher chance of remembering a previously learned piece of information, but your background, education and training would still count more.

A PC with a high EDU knows everything and someone with a low EDU knows almost nothing if you rely on Know rolls, unless you introduce a lot of GM-fiat modifiers based on the character's background - and then you're back into flying by the seat of your GM-pants. Which is fine if you and your players are comfortable with that.

I'm not quit sure what the word "fiat" means, but I think that's what I'm suggesting. Flying by the seat of your GM pants! ;t)

SGL.

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
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The GM would need to make a lot of "GM's calls" though.

This is exactly the issue I have with a generic Knowledge roll. What is really important is how the GM feels about the subject, and this leaves the system open to abuse.

I am trying to address this with a neat solution that tells you what to roll and when to roll. Playtest will begin soon, and I am really tempted to make everything OGL and make the SRD available long before we "freeze" the rules into a published product, so that everyone can give feedback.

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This is exactly the issue I have with a generic Knowledge roll. What is really important is how the GM feels about the subject, and this leaves the system open to abuse.

Just to clarify, do you mean that GMs not ready to make the GM calls would leave the system open to abuse by the players, or that the GM would abuse the system as he'll have to much control?

I am trying to address this with a neat solution that tells you what to roll and when to roll. Playtest will begin soon, and I am really tempted to make everything OGL and make the SRD available long before we "freeze" the rules into a published product, so that everyone can give feedback.

Looking forward to it.

SGL.

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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In Latin, "Dei voluntas fiat" means "God's will be done". But in Turin they usually translate it as "FIAT is the will of God"...

Just to clarify, do you mean that GMs not ready to make the GM calls would leave the system open to abuse by the players, or that the GM would abuse the system as he'll have to much control?

Both. If something happens very often, then it is better to write it down in the rules, and not to leave it to spot determination. You know that when you are lying on the ground, attacking is Difficult. Why should modifiers for knowledge be more vague?

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You know that when you are lying on the ground, attacking is Difficult. Why should modifiers for knowledge be more vague?

Because the body of knowledge is so vast that it is impossible to write down modifiers for all the possible things players may ask for?

SGL.

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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