Username:    Password:      Remember me       
Great White Games/Pinnacle Entertainment Group Forum Index Great White Games/Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Discussion Forum for PEG/GWG
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

How to Prevent Knowledge Skills from Getting Out of Control?
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Great White Games/Pinnacle Entertainment Group Forum Index -> SW General Chat & Game Stories
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Thunderforge
Veteran


Joined: 24 Sep 2009
Posts: 950

PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 2:03 pm    Post subject: How to Prevent Knowledge Skills from Getting Out of Control? Reply with quote

After looking at this topic about reclassifying Knowledge skills to become more useful, I realized that some people seemed to think that players should have a lot of Knowledge skills while others didn't. Moreover, I found it very strange that some felt that it was impossible to "pursue intellectual endeavors" and that knowledge skills were "skill sinks". I think part of the problem is that it's not always clear what Knowledge skills are relevant to the setting.

Pinnacle's Whispers from the Pit #4 says that although not always appropriate, there are some situations where a Knowledge (Heraldry) and Knowledge (Etiquette) need to be used. Moreover, Knowledge (Law), Knowledge (Medicine), and Knowledge (Stonecrafting) need to be taken if you want to be a good lawyer, doctor, or stonemason. A Knowledge (Certain Area) needs to be taken if you know about a certain area (I've never actually seen a player take this though). Knowledge (History) is stated to be too broad, but Knowledge (Egyptology) is not. And the default language assumption is that you have to take a Knowledge (Language) to (have a chance to) understand anything that's not your first language (some settings houserule this though to make you fluent in a number of languages equal to 1/2 Smarts, no roll required).

I feel that Knowledge skills are generally too broad and there are too many things your character "should know" and "needs a knowledge skill in order to do something correctly." So a bilingual surgeon who grew up in Chicago would need Knowledge (Spanish), Knowledge (Medicine) and Knowledge (Chicago) right off the bat. He probably should take other things like Knowledge (Surgery) to actually perform surgery and probably Knowledge (Anatomy) if he needs to be able to identify the cause of an illness (besides, Knowledge (Biology) is similar in scope and the core rules explicitly suggest it as a Knowledge skill). Of course, if he's not very rich, but ever has plans on dining with the rich clients he's saved, then according to WftP, he would need to take Knowledge (Etiquette) to be able to know which fork to use. That's six Knowledge skills that you're supposed to take if you want to build a bilingual surgeon from Chicago who is a good doctor and surgeon and knows how to act in high company, not even counting the obvious skills like Heal and any adventuring skills like Fighting.

This seems really excessive and honestly, I would just roll every one of those Knowledge skills into either Common Knowledge or Heal, but the official Pinnacle description about how Knowledge skills should work suggest otherwise. The core rules say the same thing encouraging a wide range of Knowledge skills for everything from languages to regions to knowing how to actually do stuff. The end result just doesn't seem right to me, but the official Pinnacle description seems very black and white. Could someone please clarify if I'm understanding this correctly?

As a side note, most forum topics about Knowledge skills say that there are some Knowledge skills that are appropriate for certain settings. I really wish that published settings would explicitly say which Knowledge skills were useful. Like if the Necessary Evil book plainly said "Knowledge (Star City), Knowledge (V'sori), and Knowledge (Computers) will be useful for this setting."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kreider204
Heroic


Joined: 19 Jun 2009
Posts: 1723

PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately, SWEX is a bit unclear. As I understand it, from various comments by Clint (et al.), you shouldn't require that characters develop Knowledge skills simply to reflect their backgrounds. Knowledge skills should only be developed if the skill in question is to play a frequent and important role in the game - and the setting rules should make it clear which ones those are. Otherwise, leave it for Common Knowledge rolls.
_________________
"It only takes an extra second to be courteous."
- Constable Benton Fraser
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
shadd4d
Legendary


Joined: 24 Sep 2003
Posts: 3991
Location: Charlottesville, VA...I miss Deutschland and Chicago.

PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a fix for languages; something like SK sort of tosses it out the window while Rippers/Space: 1889 gives you one language per step of smarts. While these are setting rules, they might be useful for languages.

The main thing is to look at what the knowledge skills will be used for; if they come up often (like Knowledge: Occult in Deadlands or Rippers), then it needs to be a knowledge skill. Otherwise it's a common knowledge thing. To quote Clint "A player should not take a Knowledge Skill unless it will be useful/important in the game, and it's the GM's job to make sure it is. Otherwise, the "knowledge" should just be handled as Common Knowledge available to the character due to their background."

Your premise of "So a bilingual surgeon who grew up in Chicago would need Knowledge (Spanish), Knowledge (Medicine) and Knowledge (Chicago) right off the bat" makes no sense to me: knowledge (Chicago) would really fall under common knowledge as per the idea that this is the background of the character. If they're a surgeon, 1) wouldn't that be an edge and something that interacted with the healing skill?, 2) why wouldn't that skill (healing) double for medicine and such, unless the "abstract" knowledge of the skill is actually really, really going to pup up a lot?

My opinion of that WftP is that it fails to mention what Clint mentioned: the need for the knowledge skill is that it needs to pop up often enough to explain its need. To be honest, if all 6 knowledge skills pop up, then it's viable. If they don't and they'll be lost skill points, then it's something to put under common knowledge or look at it maybe being an edge or setting rule. That's sort of the threshold for whether there should be a knowledge skill or not.
_________________
Don

"But there is a difference between fear and horror. An important difference.
Fear is when you worry about what might be.
Horror is when you are certain." Dannyboy01
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
kreider204
Heroic


Joined: 19 Jun 2009
Posts: 1723

PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Don's response. Some further thoughts and examples of my own:

Whether languages should be a Knowledge skill or not definitely depends on the setting. Many settings have a rule for languages along the lines of "characters start with a number of languages equal to half their Smarts die." I used that in my Mass Effect conversion - there are a variety of languages in the Mass Effect universe, but there's no need to be too particular about it, so that sort of rule works well.

On the other hand, for my Leverage conversion, I require Knowledge (Language) for each language the character knows. The ability to speak in various languages comes up a lot in cons, so it's important to have a skill that reflects various levels of linguistic ability, and to in order to see if they are fooling anyone when speaking a non-native language.

For another example: in many settings, a character with a background in psychology would simply make common knowledge rolls with a bonus (probably +2) on those rare occasions when it comes up. However, for Realms of Cthulhu, psychology plays a frequent and important MECHANICAL roll in the game, as detailed in the setting book - for example, it's used to cure madness. For that reason, characters need a Knowledge (Psychology) skill so they can make actual trait rolls for such thing (it's analogous to the Healing skill for curing physical injuries).

Hope that helps.
_________________
"It only takes an extra second to be courteous."
- Constable Benton Fraser
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Clint
Site Admin


Joined: 13 May 2003
Posts: 18071

PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 4:57 pm    Post subject: Re: How to Prevent Knowledge Skills from Getting Out of Cont Reply with quote

Thunderforge wrote:
Moreover, Knowledge (Law), Knowledge (Medicine), and Knowledge (Stonecrafting) need to be taken if you want to be a good lawyer, doctor, or stonemason. A Knowledge (Certain Area) needs to be taken if you know about a certain area (I've never actually seen a player take this though).


Perhaps it wasn't clear, but you might want to read that article again, because that's almost the exact opposite of what it was trying to convey. In fact, it specifically states that lawyers, doctors, or dwarves do not need those skills to perform their profession or know about stonework. That only characters who want to be skilled in the nuances of those knowledges would need them. One example being a cardiologist who also wants to be knowledgeable in brain surgery and podiatry needing Knowledge (Medicine). Otherwise, even for a cardiologist, Common Knowledge works fine.

It also says that all characters can use Common Knowledge to answer questions about their homes, knowing any major features, and that a Knowledge (Area) would give them access to lesser known minor features.

So in short, yeah, it does seem that there is some confusion on the stance on Knowledge skills.
_________________
Clint Black
Savage Worlds Core Rules Brand Manager

www.peginc.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jordan Peacock
Legendary


Joined: 08 Sep 2007
Posts: 2463
Location: Orlando, Florida

PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I consider it a standard feature of any Savage Setting (along with any applicable power lists for arcane backgrounds unique to that setting, setting-appropriate gear lists and prices, available character races, etc.) to list what Knowledge areas are of particular importance in that setting.

Knowledge (Computers) or Knowledge (Electronics) would be patently useless in a sword-and-sorcery fantasy setting ... unless, of course, it's one of those multi-universe settings where some brilliant fellow from Earth could get sucked into the fantasy world and then might try, like a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, to use "modern science" to wow the locals.

Similarly, if someone wanted to play a real estate agent in a post-apocalyptic setting, and the player actually wrote down "Knowledge (Real Estate)" on it, I'd have him go back and put those skill points somewhere else. If for some reason "real estate" questions should come up, I'd have him make a Smarts roll and treat it as "Common Knowledge" for that character.

I probably wouldn't ever require a character to take a skill in Knowledge (Collectible Card Games) unless this were some sort of demented anime-ish merchandise-tie-in universe where all conflicts are resolved by intoning, "LET'S DUEL!" and whipping out a deck of cards ... and then, I'd probably need to incorporate some sort of special mechanics besides. Wink

In modern settings, I'll typically provide a list of skills I think might be of particular use. If the apocalypse hasn't happened yet, "Knowledge (Law)" could potentially be useful if the heroes are going to get themselves into that sort of trouble on a regular basis ... but, seriously, in most adventures that just isn't going to get enough of a workout to be worth the skill points. If a player wanted to be a lawyer, I think I'd just let him get that one "for free" as his background, and encourage him to invest instead in a more generally applicable skill such as Persuasion if he wants to be good at arguing cases.

"Knowledge (Computers)" might be a bit more useful, but I'd treat it very broadly, and assume that most modern PCs will have at least a passing familiarity with the basics of operating a computer without requiring them to spend points on it. (Actually investing in the skill would indicate someone who can do fancy stuff, such as programming, hacking, etc.)

Incidentally, as a matter of routine I discourage my players from taking "area knowledge" type skills, because it's all too possible that the action will move far away from that particular area of expertise.

While I as a GM could perhaps stick something in so that even in a zombie apocalypse or on an alien planet, players with certain "mundane" Knowledge areas could still get some use out of them, there's very little I can do to make sure a player gets decent mileage out of a narrow area-knowledge skill when I've moved the action to a very different locale (possibly not even the same world).

If I take the time to write a list of Knowledge areas that I envision as being relevant to the setting, that can help the players refine their skill selection, and minimize the chances of someone picking a "useless" skill. (It also helps to set the boundaries on things I'll give as "free common knowledge" areas.

If I'm requiring a special Knowledge area for "Nuclear Physics," then it's not fair for me to, say, anytime a cutting-edge multi-dimensional science-related issue comes up, make the Nuclear Physicist roll his Kn (Nuclear Physics) skill, while another character gets to roll Common Knowledge (because he came up with the idea that he is a "scientist" in his spare time). If it's on my short list of Knowledge areas, then you can't get it "for free" as a Common Knowledge roll just because it "fits your background story."

Anyway, that's the way I try to approach it.
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
manifold
Veteran


Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 572
Location: St. Petersburg, FL

PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:48 am    Post subject: CK Reply with quote

I wonder if broad knowledge skills are what are making this seem cumbersome.

The last campaign I ran was Solomon Kane vs. the C'thulhu Mythos in the Carri bean. Useful Knowledge skills would have been:

Knowledge: Voodoo

Knowledge: Mayan History

Knowledge: Caribbean Mythology

Knowledge: Astronomy

Knowledge: Occult

Knowledge: Creole Culture

(However, not having any of these was not a game-breaker, and having them would not have significantly improved the experience of any of the players.)

In fact, I'd say that a Knowledge: Culture would be more useful than a Knowledge: Language. Languages can be rolled into Smarts, but understanding behavior would require some specialized insight.

An area knowledge wouldn't be as important as knowing about a particular aspect of that area:

Knowledge: Crime in Chicago
Knowledge: Occult Chicago
Knowledge: Chicago Cop Culture
Knowledge: Chicago Art

etc.

and, again, only as would pertain to the game. If a player wants to be an expert on the art scene in Chicago, but it only becomes mechanically useful once or twice, give him the ad hoc +2 bonus to common knowledge and let him shine. If it comes up every two sessions, maybe a skill is in order, or maybe the GM just needs to be more judicious with modifying the check (as in: this is really obscure; you might know, but it's a -2 penalty, or someone with your background would just know that (same as a +4 bonus.)

One thing I learned from Trail of Cthulhu is that it's more fun to give your players clues than it is to withhold clues. Mostly, Knowledge skills seem to be for knowing things.

The ad hoc bonus to Common Knowledge would be appropriate for your bi-lingual Chicago social-climbing surgeon. Knowing Spanish idioms and their origin would be Common Knowledge. However, knowing the origin of a more obscure idiom might require a penalty. Making a player pay for a skill that gets used once for a detail that is inconsequential, or worse, game breaking, is a poor choice, because it's not fun. Better to say "you speak Spanish, so you understand their conversation" once or twice than to restrict his ability to Fight, Intimidate, Drive or gather information. Perhaps his skill in Spanish enables him to use Steetwise in a way his companions cannot, but that's a reward for a high-smarts character with a rich background, not a game-breaking advantage.

Knowledge skills are only useful if they're fun. If they're not fun, they're useless. You can build a character with any background you want, with common knowledge being a significant part of what they are able to contribute to the game. The ad hoc bonuses should cover much of what you want to accomplish through your Dr. Character. However, to implement some of the advantages, perhaps edges like Healer, Contacts, and Charismatic and skills like Streetwise and Persuasion might enable him to do the things you want him to do, like schmooze and do foot surgery. There are already rules for using medicine which have to do with modifiers to healing rolls based on available facilities, equipment and edges, so that's covered. No need to add "Knowledge: Surgery" because it's redundant. An herbalist would get a bonus to gather herbs, identify their effects, and prescribe their use; a Surgeon would get a bonus to re-attach a limb, remove an organ, or repair major organ damage. They would not get a bonus to using anesthetic; that's what anesthesiologists are for. But all would use the Heal skill to activate their abilities to heal wounds or repair damage.

Often, the usefulness and flexibility of Common Knowledge is overlooked. I'd say: if a character wants to be consistently successful at checks about knowledge of a certain subject above and beyond what his or her Smarts skill with an ad-hoc bonus for Common Knowledge would afford, or if there is a mechanical function of the skill like Knowledge: Battle, or Knowledge: Psychology in RoC (which could have just been Psychology, imho) then buy it. If not, stick with the core rules for doing things and use the heck out of Common Knowledge.

I wonder: why the reverence for validity of Knowledge skills? In Jordan's example, why Knowledge: Computers? If the character is a programmer, how often will that come up? Even if the character is a specialized programmer, like Data Base Administrator or a hacker or a game developer, or all three, how often will that come up? And if it does, how much of that could be covered by common knowledge, and how much need to be invested in Knowledge: X?

Even if the character is a master hacker, and a significant part of his role in the story is to beat computer security, why not have a skill called Hackng? Hacking isn't knowing something; it's doing something. It affects the world. It changes things. Another question to ask when deciding to introduce a new Knowledge skill is: what is this for? What will the character do with this, besides passively know things? Having a d8 in hacking might allow a common knowledge regarding the history of hacking, but why would a skill that involves action be a knowledge skill? Why not let the affective aspect, the actual hacking, be a skill, and then assume a working knowledge of hacking, hackers and hack culture as common knowledge?

If a character is an astronomer, astronomy is a common knowledge skill. He might even be able to use Navigation untrained at -1 or even -0. But what does being an astronomer have to do with his role in the story? Again, if he wants d10 successes on checks to see if he knows about astronomy stuff, then by all means, let him buy the skill, but if knowing everything about astronomy boils down to No Real Action In The Game, then there's no point. In Savage Worlds, you don't need a skill until you say you're doing something, and even then you don't need a skill unless your failure will change an outcome.

Back to the Chicago doctor: Middle-class Hispanic women are mysteriously disappearing. He decides to do some digging, out of concern for the community. One of his clients is a wealthy import-export business woman, who has contacts from City Hall all the way down to the waterfront and warehouses. He arranges to have lunch with her to see what she knows.

So far, no checks are required. This is just the character interacting with the environment in a low-stakes way that doesn't present any risk.

Now, if at lunch, the business woman is slipped a poisoned drink, and the doctor has to save her, we have a risk-laden moment where a check is appropriate. But Heal is fine for this, both to diagnose and to treat, if that's even possible. If not, it can be used to determine cause of death. Later, if he checks her medical records (gaining access through Persuasion), he notices there is something awry: cause of death is asphyxiation, written in a way to suggest choking on bread. No check necessary, because not discovering the clue isn't the kind of risk the game is about. that's a meta-risk; the real risk is that the story won't advance, and that's not fun. Note that the poison victim isn't a choke point: the story advances whether she lives or dies. The doctor will get the information that someone is using poison to silence those in the know regardless, and if the GM has thought ahead, he'll figure out who, either way.

The backstory of the doctor has given the GM many hooks to hang the story on, and many ways to involve the character in the environment, but in the above example there was only two checks, and they weren't Knowledge, because Not Knowing would have made the game more difficult, and not in a fun challenging, way.

To sum up: Knowledge skills should be fun for the player who takes them. If there is not a way to a make them fun, drop them.
_________________
My online portfolio:

http://manifold2.deviantart.com/


Last edited by manifold on Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:28 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Merlin_Sylver
Veteran


Joined: 02 Oct 2009
Posts: 869
Location: I wish I knew...

PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:26 am    Post subject: Re: CK Reply with quote

manifold wrote:
I wonder if broad knowledge skills are what are making this seem cumbersome.

The last campaign I ran was Solomon Kane vs. the C'thulhu Mythos in the Carri bean. Useful Knowledge skills would have been:

Knowledge: Voodoo

Knowledge: Mayan History

Knowledge: Caribbean Mythology

Knowledge: Astronomy

Knowledge: Occult

Knowledge: Creole Culture

(However, not having any of these was not a game-breaker, and having them would not have significantly improved the experience of any of the players.)


I think I'd end up making Voodoo and Caribbean Mythology both part of Knowledge Occult. Also, Mayan History and Astronomy would be very closely linked as well, but I don't know what you'd call that skill... Still, most astronomers know quite a bit about Mayan History, as many modern practices stem directly from things the Mayans did.

For me, broad strokes with the Knowledge skill is a great way to reduce how many skills a character ends up having on his character sheet. Sure, sometimes it leads to slightly unrealistic situations where someone with Knowledge (History) is making rolls to determine something about a local culture, but such situations are what situational modifiers are for.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger
islan
Heroic


Joined: 17 Dec 2008
Posts: 1255

PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just want to say, I hate it in roleplaying games where I have to spend points in order to "know" anything. That's why I love Savage Worlds with its Common Knowledge system and derivatives. Really, you should only need to spend points in a Knowledge skill if it's particularly important to that setting (Battle, Programming, etc) or if you feel that it is important so as to emphasize your character.

And you may find it strange when I said that Knowledge skills act as a "skill sink," but please allow me to explain myself. I have seen quite often when a player has a pre-planned character concept and then have difficulty representing that concept in Savage Worlds' point-buy system. One time a person didn't want any of the available Edges, thinking none of them had to do with their character. Other times, a player ends up with unspent Skill Points and feel that raising or buying new skills doesn't fit their concept. As an easy fix, the player can just make up a Knowledge skill, doesn't even need to be an important Knowledge for that setting, and put the points in that. This results in just one mode of flexibility for players to actualize their concept.

In the other thread, I mentioned one player that took Knowledge (Pottery). In that same game, another player took Knowledge (Cooking). And this was all in a Fallout game. The first session saw the Cook roast up a radroach, and rolled a 36 on his cooking check -- it was so good, nobody noticed they were getting radiation poisoning! Could both of these things been represented by Common Knowledge? Sure could! But the players thought they were so important to their concepts, they spent the points just to better represent their characters.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
77IM
Heroic


Joined: 23 Jun 2009
Posts: 1591
Location: Austin, TX

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

islan wrote:
a player ends up with unspent Skill Points

Wow, this has never happened to me or anyone I game with. We are always lamenting how few skill points we get (none of our "heroes" ever know how to swim or climb or drive at more than the token d4, for example).

I think this feeds into the OP's point. My group tends to buy skills based upon concept, and that often involves very specific Knowledges, which stretches the skill points even further...

Maybe, as an experiment, next time we do character creation I will suggest everyone write down on their character sheet exactly which Common Knowledges they expect to have. This way people can feel like they "have" the skills without actually spending points on them.

-- 77IM
_________________
Stuff I made: Arcane Abilities Talent Edge Savage Fading Suns Savage Wuxia!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Snate56
Legendary


Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 4311
Location: Monroe, Washington

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It goes a bit beyond that, too. The GM has to be able to rule on skills a player may forget or not even know his character might have.
A modern day hunter for instance, knows about guns (or bows), how to track and so on, but he also knows something about setting up a blind, how to disguise his scent, types of boots and cold weather gear, how to properly dress and pack out the animal, maybe even recipes!



SteveN
_________________
"We've got a blind date with destiny... and it looks like she's ordered the lobster." <The Shoveller>
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Clint
Site Admin


Joined: 13 May 2003
Posts: 18071

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

77IM wrote:
Maybe, as an experiment, next time we do character creation I will suggest everyone write down on their character sheet exactly which Common Knowledges they expect to have. This way people can feel like they "have" the skills without actually spending points on them.


Maybe try this, it can help some players to quantify their Common Knowledges (also allows a variant rule for languages)...

http://www.peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=220615#220615
_________________
Clint Black
Savage Worlds Core Rules Brand Manager

www.peginc.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Sitting Duck
Legendary


Joined: 15 May 2003
Posts: 5062
Location: Podunk Junction, State of Confusion

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Snate56 wrote:
A modern day hunter for instance, knows about guns (or bows), how to track and so on, but he also knows something about setting up a blind, how to disguise his scent, types of boots and cold weather gear, how to properly dress and pack out the animal, maybe even recipes!


Much of what you described there would also fall under Survival.
_________________
The rabbit is cuddly. Kids like little cuddly sidekicks. I mean... The rabbit... It's a time-tested... Okay, the rabbit bites.
Blog: http://sittingduck1313.livejournal.com
The Gamer's Codex Reviewer
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger
Snate56
Legendary


Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 4311
Location: Monroe, Washington

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing

Just trying to come up with something off the top of my head!
I was trying to illustrate that every bit of knowledge we have has a lot of idiosyncrasies and details we tend to gloss over when playing RPGs.


SteveN
_________________
"We've got a blind date with destiny... and it looks like she's ordered the lobster." <The Shoveller>
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Thunderforge
Veteran


Joined: 24 Sep 2009
Posts: 950

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint wrote:
Maybe try this, it can help some players to quantify their Common Knowledges (also allows a variant rule for languages)...

http://www.peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=220615#220615

I like the idea of specifying knowledges and I think that the three ranks are a good general guideline for Common Knowledge. Although I like having very broad Common Knowledge, I think there are some times when a Knowledge skill is useful for actually doing something. Like 77Im, my players and I like to build characters based on concepts and would like for players to have Knowledge skills that are useful for the pragmatic applications of what they know how to do. Perhaps each player could automatically earn each of the following based on their background:
  • Expert Knowledge Skill: One die type higher than smarts
  • Skilled Knowledge Skill: One die type equal to smarts
  • Familiar Knowledge Skill: One die type below smarts (ignore if Smarts is a d4)
This provides characters with three areas of expertise for their character to help with their concept without requiring any skill points. This might mess with some edge requirements making them easier to attain (e.g. the Agent edge in DLR requiring a d6 in Knowledge: Occult). You could just rule that you can only use one knowledge skill for edge prerequisites or just flat out say that you cannot use knowledge skills gained in this way for edge prerequisites.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ValhallaGH
Legendary


Joined: 25 Apr 2010
Posts: 6382

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thunderforge wrote:
This might mess with some edge requirements making them easier to attain (e.g. the Agent edge in DLR requiring a d6 in Knowledge: Occult).

If your Marshall is letting you treat an amazingly-useful knowledge (like Occult; in Deadlands) as Common Knowledge then: a) he needs a kick in the seat, b) he deserves all the grief you bring him. That's like letting a PC take ranks in "Knowledge: How to Win". Occult is that useful in Deadlands. Allowing it to be Common Knowledge #1eek2 (or replacement Common Knowledge) is just ... mind boggling.

I'm with Clint. Only allow players to take Knowledge skills that will be useful. If it won't come up and be useful then don't let them take it; treat it as Common Knowledge if it comes up at all (depending upon setting, Cooking and Dance may or may not be useful).

Good luck.

Edited.


Last edited by ValhallaGH on Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
77IM
Heroic


Joined: 23 Jun 2009
Posts: 1591
Location: Austin, TX

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The psychology of how players create character stats is very interesting. One way is to create character stats purely based upon concept. It seems to me that most people build characters based on concept PLUS other practical game-play considerations such as game balance.

For example, when you suggest, "If it won't come up and be useful then don't let them take it," you are saying that something other than concept should impact how characters are created, right?

I think that's a better way to do it, but it's tricky, especially for items like Knowledge where there are two competing systems (skill and Common) and where the game balance implications are very subjective and situational (like your Deadlands example points out). That's why I'm so interested in Knowledge skills -- how to bridge the gap between the player who sees only the concept and wants to translate it straight into die-sizes, and the game activity which really doesn't care how many levels of Knowledge (Matza Ball Soup) the character has.

-- 77IM
_________________
Stuff I made: Arcane Abilities Talent Edge Savage Fading Suns Savage Wuxia!


Last edited by 77IM on Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ValhallaGH
Legendary


Joined: 25 Apr 2010
Posts: 6382

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

77IM wrote:
[W]hen you suggest, "If it won't come up and be useful then don't let them take it," you are saying that something other than concept should impact how characters are created, right?

Absolutely. The game has rules that the players are expected to follow. Those rules must and should be considered when building a character.
Similarly, there are setting considerations beyond basic character concept that have to be dealt with. The level and prevalence of technology, the level and prevalence of magic, multiple species (if any), common transportation methods, and recreational activities that in some settings are everyday activities and in others are esoteric hobbies (such as knitting or quilting).
There are dozens of influences on how you build a character using game mechanics (including GM and campaign style). Because no game system is capable of completely and accurately representing all that goes into a person, you have to be ready and willing to make accommodations.

77IM wrote:
I think that's a better way to do it, but it's tricky, especially for items like Knowledge where there are two competing systems (skill and Common) and where the game balance implications are very subjective and situational (like your Deadlands example points out). That's why I'm so interested in Knowledge skills -- how to bridge the gap between the player who sees only the concept and wants to translate it straight into die-sizes, and the game activity which really doesn't care how many levels of Knowledge (Matza Ball Soup) the character has.

-- 77IM

Perfectly fair and reasonable. It's very much a gray area, one that requires a lot of thought for each and every campaign (as I implied earlier).

Best of luck.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Clint
Site Admin


Joined: 13 May 2003
Posts: 18071

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thunderforge wrote:
Although I like having very broad Common Knowledge, I think there are some times when a Knowledge skill is useful for actually doing something.


Nothing prevents or disallows Common Knowledge from being useful for actually doing something; it just covers that the particular something isn't going to come up so often or be so important that Skill Points or level-ups need to be dedicated to it.

It may be very important in game that the character dance with the prince or princess very well, but except for rare games, that roll isn't going to come up enough to dedicate points to Knowledge (Dance).

Thunderforge wrote:
Like 77Im, my players and I like to build characters based on concepts and would like for players to have Knowledge skills that are useful for the pragmatic applications of what they know how to do.


To clarify what I hope is the point here, I don't think it is that others do not build characters off concepts, but that the expectation is to house rule using Knowledge skills to support that concept instead of the existing Common Knowledge system.

Personally, if the intent is to give characters free Knowledge Skill die types, but then disallow their use for Edge Requirements, then I'd say simply don't call them Knowledge Skills. Leave that as is, and call them maybe Background Skills instead.

Background Skills flesh out concepts, but can't serve as a requirement for an Edge. To get that requires a normal Knowledge Skill.

And perhaps Background Skills are less focused than Knowledge skills and thus require a raise above a Knowledge Skill's roll the get the same effect (i.e. a raise on a Background Skill is equal to a success from a Knowledge Skill).
_________________
Clint Black
Savage Worlds Core Rules Brand Manager

www.peginc.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Thunderforge
Veteran


Joined: 24 Sep 2009
Posts: 950

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ValhallaGH wrote:

If your Marshall is letting you treat an amazingly-useful knowledge (like Occult; in Deadlands) as Common Knowledge then: a) he needs a kick in the seat, b) he deserves all the grief you bring him.

Sorry for the misunderstanding, I was saying that you would literally take a Knowledge Skill, not having it be a subset of Common Knowledge. Yeah, that would really screw stuff up if it turned into Common Knowledge.

Clint wrote:
Personally, if the intent is to give characters free Knowledge Skill die types, but then disallow their use for Edge Requirements, then I'd say simply don't call them Knowledge Skills. Leave that as is, and call them maybe Background Skills instead.

Background Skills flesh out concepts, but can't serve as a requirement for an Edge. To get that requires a normal Knowledge Skill.

And perhaps Background Skills are less focused than Knowledge skills and thus require a raise above a Knowledge Skill's roll the get the same effect (i.e. a raise on a Background Skill is equal to a success from a Knowledge Skill).

I like this as a good compromise. I'm not sure if I'd do the raise = success thing, but this seems to be a good compromise of providing extra skills without breaking the game. Thanks for the suggestion, Clint!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Great White Games/Pinnacle Entertainment Group Forum Index -> SW General Chat & Game Stories All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum