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[Savage Worlds] Skill Variant and Reclassification.

 
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Stampede
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:13 am    Post subject: [Savage Worlds] Skill Variant and Reclassification. Reply with quote

(Repost from my RPG.net post here for the Savages to see!)
As much as I love Savage Worlds, their's one aspect of it I've always found lacking, and that would be the treatment of Knowledge skills.

Knowledge skills and their handling has always been an issue that's needed to be fudged around with, in those settings where they are important. I propose a way to make them important in all settings, while also giving players an opportunity to actually purchase them.

The proposal is as follows.

1st) Skills are divided into two Categories, Knowledge Skills and General Skills.


Every Skill which is linked to Smarts is now reclassified as a "Knowledge" Skill. This means the following Skills.

Tracking
Survival
Repair
Notice
Healing
Investigation
StreetWise

The Following Skills are added and become a set of "Standardized" Knowledge skills which can fit most Campaigns.
Academics- Covers things such as History, Anthropology, Law, and Philosophy
Science- Covers things such as Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics
Occult- Covers knowledge of things that go bump in the night and occult practices.
Social Science- Covers areas of Psychology, Sociology, Politics, and Statistics.

General Skills are Classified as the Following.

Boating
Driving
Fighting
Gambling
Guts
Intimidation
Lockpicking
Persuasion
Piloting
Riding
Shooting
Stealth
Taunt (Note: Taunt is reclassified as being a Spirit based skill under this option)
Throwing

Note: Climbing and Swimming have been eliminated as Skills, and are now simply Trait tests of Agility, Vigor, and Strength respectively.

2nd) With the Skills broken into these two Distinct categories, skill points are distributed as followed.

The Initial 15 is still distributed and can be used on any set of Skills.
The Player is also given a number of Bonus Skill points equal to their Smarts Die type, expressly for purchasing ranks of Knowledge Skills.

Example: A starting character with a Knowledge of D6 gains 6 points for the purpose of purchasing Knowledge Skills.

An Advance in the Smarts Die type results in a corresponding bonus of Skill points for Knowledge Skills.

Advancements may be spent to allow the purchase of Knowledge skills as per skill purchase in Savage Worlds.

This new option also results in the creation of a few possible new edges.
Example
"Master of your Field" Novice, Knowledge Skill based.
Pick one of the Knowledge Skills with a Broad Base, such as Science, Social Science, Occult, or Academics. Pick a Specific Emphasis within that field, such as Biology for Science, Psychology for Social Science, European Pagan Practices for Occult, or Law for Academics. You gain a +2 to all rolls involving that specific field.


The resulting change in the skills with this option, may make character creation slightly more complex on one hand. However on the other, it allows Savage Worlds to better emulate settings where Intelligent characters with a Broad Base are more important.

Thoughts?
Criticisms?
Comments?
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Enno
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Savage Worlds is an Edge oriented game!!!

I don't see any advantages in play over the old mechanics. It's just another distribution and definition. And FMPOV it isn't needed if you understood the "Common Knowledge" mechanics.

There was never a problem in getting skills, just in understanding them. And SW never intended to be overly simulationistic, and never had a problem with distributing points. If a skill isn't used every session or two, it isn't needed. So no unused background skills like craft (basketry) or knowledge (fertility dances).

Skills in SW give you a general orientation of your abilities only. (Setting dependent) Edges then define them in detail.

Everything else falls under common knowledge, or not. So if you want to play a scientist with a broad (but undefined) knowledge of all sciences, its common knowledge for him. His major would be an edge for him, which gives him a +2 on 2 major fields of his choice.
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Stampede
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I fully understand how Common Knowledge skills work.

I've been running Savage Worlds for Several years, and I've often found, when I wish to have a game emphasize investigation, research, and other intellectual endeavors, Savage Worlds comes up lacking, meaning I switch to another Game System.

I can see it won't appeal to everyone. The Usual Savage Setting tends to emphasize action over investigation and research. However, every time I've seen Savage Worlds attempt to cover Knowledge Skills in a way that won't screw over a player by forcing them to spend all of their points on innumerable ill defined Knowledge Skills, it's ussually come up short.

Case in Point.. Realms of Cthulu. As much as I enjoy this translation of CoC, it tends to fall a little flat when it comes to investigation aspects.
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Snate56
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We assume that if your character is described as a U.S. Special Forces, then his ability to field strip and reassemble his weapon blindfolded is common knowledge to him. No special skills needed.
This allows a broad interpretation of the character's experiences to accomodate literally hundreds of skills a person would have, on a case by case basis.

SteveN
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islan
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I'm sure we can debate the merits and flaws of this method as to how it would effect the game as an Official Rule, I personally think it makes a decent Optional Rule that one can use as a dial for customization of the Savage rules. It just allows people to be competent in Knowledge skills without sacrificing ability in other skills.

To speak of personal experience, I find some players using Knowledge skills as a sort of "skill point sink". When they have extra skill points left over and nowhere to put them that would fit their character concept, they just sink them into an appropriate Knowledge skill or make one up.

I once had a player put a bunch of points into Knowledge (Pottery).

I only mention this as a "possible problem" in case you care for it.

I personally came up with an idea called General Knowledges, meant as an expansion of some of the Common Knowledge rules presented in a few Savage Settings and as an in-between of Common Knowledge and Knowledge Skills.
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Enno
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, if i understand your problem correctly, IYO Savage Worlds lacks in the field where long strenious investigation and research is concerned.

Thats right, because SW is a game of cinematic action. Bookhugging is not the main speciality, like it is in CoC. The setting rules in RoC come near that (with SW mechanics), but it isn't the same.

Did you try to use the mass battle mechanics for longer research? I use this mechanic a lot, when i need a rule for long time commitements, like a debate, an intrigue, or research. It works with existing mechanics everybody knows, and you don't have to "overhaul" a major part of the original system. And it is highly portable to any genre you play...

Wink
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Boldfist
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Couple of thoughts...

Stampede wrote:
I fully understand how Common Knowledge skills work.

Snip

Case in Point.. Realms of Cthulu. As much as I enjoy this translation of CoC, it tends to fall a little flat when it comes to investigation aspects.


1. Have you used the Defining Interests from Realms of Cthulhu? A d10 Smart character will have 5 Interests that could easily represent specific education and/or Knowledge skills in conjunction with Common Knowledge. Along with the Savvy Edge (no penalty to Common Knowledge rolls) and the Cultured Edge (gain an additional two Defining Interests and +1 Charisma) from Iron Dynasty: Way of the Ronin I find this takes care of almost all of my "book worm only" types. Add the Scholar Edge and a professor is very easy to make.

Where I think the "investigation" aspect may fall short for PLAYERS is they want to have high Fighting/Shooting skills along with high Knowledge skills. This typically doesn't happen in the real world (or rpgs for that matter). Novice characters shouldn't be great at everything. Take a doctor or lawyer fresh out of school. They will have a couple of high Knowledge skills but probably not a lot of other skills because they have spent years in study and didn't have time to raise their Fighting/Shooting or whatever.

The sample characters in the Citizens and Denizens section of RoC give some great examples of what a starting (Novice) character that is a true investigator/scholar/professor looks like.

On the flip side, a typical soldier (joined out of high school) will have a high Fighting/Shooting when he gets out of the military but probably won't have many high Knowledge skills.

A college graduate that joins the military to be an officer won't be a Novice character (in my opinion). He'll probably be Seasoned when he gets out of the military and could have both high Fighting/Shooting and Knowledge skills. But he'll have 20-30 XP where the other two examples only have 0 XP.

Anyway, just my thoughts on that.

Enno wrote:
Did you try to use the mass battle mechanics for longer research? I use this mechanic a lot, when i need a rule for long time commitements, like a debate, an intrigue, or research. It works with existing mechanics everybody knows, and you don't have to "overhaul" a major part of the original system. And it is highly portable to any genre you play...


2. As for extended research/investigation/clue finding I use the new Extended Trait Checks from Iron Dynasty: Way of the Ronin. They allow for using a particular skill (like Investigation, Repair or Streetwise) over the course of a duration. It uses Difficulty, Depth and Duration to determine Success or Failures. Really, it can be used for any Trait that is used for a longer duration or requires more than one Success.

Just my .02
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razorwise
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cultured and ETC will both make an appearance in Echo of Dead Leaves (the Plot Point Campaign/Sourcebook) that is in development for Realms of Cthulhu as well as some other things...

Norm aptly hits upon several things that certainly broaden the depth of investigatory pursuits in such a type of game.

One thing that I like to point out to new RoC players is that if you have even a d4 Fighting, you're going to pound on someone with no Fighting Skill that is unarmed.

You have a d4 + d6 (Wild Die) and you're going against a Parry of 2 and you usually have a +2 (due to the Unarmed Defender rule, SWEX, p. 72), so you're going to hit them; the question is "how hard?" When they swing at you, they are going against a Parry of 4, their unskilled penalty is canceled out by you being an Unarmed Defender, so the odds of them hitting you, and doing any sort of damage, is radically reduced.

The scale/focus of the game can shift radically in RoC based upon your chosen play style as well.

Returning to point, if you follow Norm's suggestions, you'll find it easily expands out these aspects of play that can be translated into (most) any setting.

Regards,

Sean
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Clint
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:34 pm    Post subject: Re: [Savage Worlds] Skill Variant and Reclassification. Reply with quote

Some comments...

Stampede wrote:
Taunt (Note: Taunt is reclassified as being a Spirit based skill under this option)


Taunt loses a bit of its game importance since it is simply a renamed Intimidation, a Spirit-linked Skill for Tests of Will, instead of a Smarts-linked Skill for Tests of Will (giving a cheaper Test of Will option to higher Smarts characters),

Stampede wrote:
The Player is also given a number of Bonus Skill points equal to their Smarts Die type, expressly for purchasing ranks of Knowledge Skills.

An Advance in the Smarts Die type results in a corresponding bonus of Skill points for Knowledge Skills.


So Knowledge Skills get to "double-dip?" Not only does a higher Smarts make the linked Skills cheaper, but it also provides more points to buy those Skills.

I'd suggest either go fully one way or the other. Either give Knowledge Skills a flat starting number like "General Skills" get, or base the points for alls Skills on the linked Attributes but the cost is flat.

Like a d4 Skill costs 1 and each additional die type costs 2 points and characters get a number of Skill Points equal to their Attribute die type to spend on Skills linked to it. So...

A d4 Spirit, D6 Agility, and D8 Smarts character would have 4 points for Spirit-linked Skills, 6 points for Agility-linked Skills, and 8 points for Smarts-linked Skills.
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77IM
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:02 pm    Post subject: Re: [Savage Worlds] Skill Variant and Reclassification. Reply with quote

Stampede wrote:
The Player is also given a number of Bonus Skill points equal to their Smarts Die type, expressly for purchasing ranks of Knowledge Skills.

I've used just this rule (I saw it on Savagepedia) and it works well. Except, as Clint mentions, Smarts double-dips, so high-Smarts people wind up with a LOT more skill points. This isn't as much of a problem when they can only be spent on Knowledge skills (not other Smarts-based skills), but still leaves quite a gap. We've tried using a fixed amount (5 points) and using a less variable amount (2+1/2 Smarts) and both seem to work better.

The reason I like handing out free Knowledge skills is two-fold. First, in my experience Knowledges tend to be weak compared to other skills, so they need a price-break. Second, they are more interesting than other skills, precisely because of their uselessness: combined with their open-ended nature, players tend to get creative when picking Knowledge skills. So free Knowledge skill points gets a big thumbs up from me.

I really think there is a big difference, both in usage and usefulness, between Knowledge and the other Smarts skills. Things like Notice and Tracking can be very powerful in the right situations, while Knowledge tends to be weak (the GM can compensate by throwing opportunities for Knowledge use your way, but I don't want to make things any harder on the GM). I like your set of standardized Knowledge skills and think that is a step in the right direction, but the "Master of your Field" edge seems weak. Something like the Defining Interests that Boldfist mentions, or just applying Common Knowledge bonuses to all Knowledge checks, sounds better to me.

-- 77IM
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Clint
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:23 pm    Post subject: Re: [Savage Worlds] Skill Variant and Reclassification. Reply with quote

77IM wrote:
The reason I like handing out free Knowledge skills is two-fold. First, in my experience Knowledges tend to be weak compared to other skills, so they need a price-break. Second, they are more interesting than other skills, precisely because of their uselessness: combined with their open-ended nature, players tend to get creative when picking Knowledge skills. So free Knowledge skill points gets a big thumbs up from me.

I really think there is a big difference, both in usage and usefulness, between Knowledge and the other Smarts skills. Things like Notice and Tracking can be very powerful in the right situations, while Knowledge tends to be weak (the GM can compensate by throwing opportunities for Knowledge use your way, but I don't want to make things any harder on the GM).


Thing is, that's kind of the point of the baseline system. 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. So in essence those "weak" skills are free.

Also keep in mind, importance is situational and varied. Making a Knowledge roll to know the weaknesses of a creature can be much more important than a Tracking roll to determine which way it went. And making Skill rolls isn't the only importance the skill can have in the game, as a Knowledge Skill may be a requirement to a more powerful Edge.

Anyway, just clarifying the foundation; build on it or beside it as best suits.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

razorwise wrote:
One thing that I like to point out to new RoC players is that if you have even a d4 Fighting, you're going to pound on someone with no Fighting Skill that is unarmed.

You have a d4 + d6 (Wild Die) and you're going against a Parry of 2 and you usually have a +2 (due to the Unarmed Defender rule, SWEX, p. 72), so you're going to hit them; the question is "how hard?" When they swing at you, they are going against a Parry of 4, their unskilled penalty is canceled out by you being an Unarmed Defender, so the odds of them hitting you, and doing any sort of damage, is radically reduced.


Not quite. The Unarmed Defender rule states:

"If one character has a melee weapon and his foe doesn’t, the opponent is considered unarmed and is very likely in a world of hurt. Since he can only dodge and evade rather than parry, any armed attacker trying to hit him may add +2 to his Fighting roll." SWEX pg. 72, emphasis mine.

CK
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77IM
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint, that makes a lot of sense to me. I guess one way to look at it is: the difference between having Knowledge (Poison) d8 and having Common Knowledge (Poison) is that the former implies that poison is A Big Deal for your character and you expect to use it a lot, and the latter implies that poison is Just A Thing that might never come up but if it does, that character has it.

For action-oriented games I don't usually do the free Knowledge thing, and instead rely on Common Knowledge. Maybe I should just be more explicit in stating that the difference is based upon the skill's importance to the game not their importance to the character concept.

-- 77IM
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CK,

Sheesh! I knew that--that's how I run it. See what happens when I actually post about rules stuff? (Ahem. I should hide behind "this is a setting rule I'm playtesting", but that just wouldn't be true.)

You, dear sir, get an e-benny! Spend it wisely. Smile

Regards,

Sean
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