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-   -   Tips for avoiding skill bloat; Pro skills (http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=150530)

FF_Ninja 06-16-2017 12:10 PM

Tips for avoiding skill bloat; Pro skills
 
Starting a new criminal empire building campaign this Sunday, and I'm helping players build their very first GURPS characters. It's going pretty smoothly, but I'm a bit at a loss when it comes to skills.

With how GURPS handles skills, I'm used to there being a lot of skill bloat (and much of that being fat) and skill malnutrition. In Case A, players get a whole butt-load of 1-point skills for cheap, falling into the "I want dis" mentality. In Case B on the other hand, players have a hard time determining how to properly spend points on skills in order to make a fully fleshed-out character experience.

Anyone have some advice or a guide for properly and realistically choosing skills for a character without putting too much meta into it?

ALSO:

Professional skills. When does one roll vs a pro skill, instead of a normal skill? Example: One of my characters wants to be a cop, so that's Pro: Law Enforcement. But how would that work? Would it replace or overlap with other skills? I think I know how to work with overlap (synergy bonuses are a nice method), but I could use a hard and fast guideline of when to use a Pro skill vs. a normal skill, if both are applicable in theory.

Thanks again, guys!

Kelly Pedersen 06-16-2017 01:25 PM

Re: Tips for avoiding skill bloat; Pro skills
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by FF_Ninja (Post 2105370)
Anyone have some advice or a guide for properly and realistically choosing skills for a character without putting too much meta into it?

My advice would be to curate the skill list heavily. Go through the list, pick the skills you're sure will come up, figure out the context they'll come up in and their frequency, and present that to the players as the list to pick from. Let players buy a couple of skills not on this list for flavour if they want, but restrict that. Then, keep that list handy, and when running, make sure you're calling for rolls from the list, not off it. If the campaign changes direction so totally that a new skill is actually appropriate, feel free to add it to the list, but if it's just a matter of you forgot to include a skill that really should have been on there in the first place, it's better to just fudge it and use a skill that's already on the list.

So, for example, your criminal empire building list would probably contain skills like Savoir-Faire (Mafia), Finance, Criminology, Intimidation, various Guns skills, and so forth. If you find later that you forgot to add Accounting, you should really just let the characters with Finance roll that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by FF_Ninja
Professional skills. When does one roll vs a pro skill, instead of a normal skill? Example: One of my characters wants to be a cop, so that's Pro: Law Enforcement. But how would that work? Would it replace or overlap with other skills? I think I know how to work with overlap (synergy bonuses are a nice method), but I could use a hard and fast guideline of when to use a Pro skill vs. a normal skill, if both are applicable in theory.

Soldier is actually an excellent example of a Professional Skill, so I'd use it as a model. It can replace several other skills, if the other skills would be regularly used in the field, and would gain a +4 task difficulty modifier in regular use. So Soldier can be used to operate a radio (Electronics Operation (Communication)), drive a jeep across the base (Drive (Automobile)), hike over a prepared, known course (Hiking), and do basic drill and salute the right people (Savoir-Faire (Military)).

Similarly, I'd allow Professional Skill (Police Officer) to substitute for using the radio in your squad car, maintaining your service weapon (Armoury (Small Arms), perform an interrogation when you've got the perp in custody and evidence in hand (Interrogation), fill out the forms for arresting someone (Administration), or know how to properly arrest someone, with Miranda rights and so forth, so it holds up in court (Law (Police)).

safisher 06-16-2017 02:07 PM

Re: Tips for avoiding skill bloat; Pro skills
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen (Post 2105387)
My advice would be to curate the skill list heavily.

This^. Make the decisions simple for the players. Templates are a good example, and a good way to do it. Lists are just as useful. Either way, the more you guide them the better their PCs will be for your game. And as Kelly said, Professional Skills should be used if skill bloat is an issue. PS: Private Eye, PS:Mobster, etc. are just as useful for PC building as a list of skills like Streetwise, Shadowing, Detect Lies, etc. if the skill rolls are +4 TDM. They are like mini-Bang! skills.

trooper6 06-16-2017 02:26 PM

Re: Tips for avoiding skill bloat; Pro skills
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by FF_Ninja (Post 2105370)
Anyone have some advice or a guide for properly and realistically choosing skills for a character without putting too much meta into it?

I don't think there is one answer for this question because there are different schools in how to think about skills in GURPS.

Some GMs prefer the PCs have few skills (5-10) at lower skill levels (12 being for their best skills) and do most things off of default. Other GMs prefer the PCs have more skills at higher levels.

Generally, I think, as a GM, you need to decide what you want the character sheet to look like. What you think of as bloat might be normal to me--or vice-versa. Once you know what you want the character sheet to look like (in terms of how many skills, what level, how high attributes are, etc), I think you should probably do 2 things: 1) determine how many starting cp are more likely to result in what you imagine and choose that amount and 2) tell your players what your norms are for the way you run campaigns.

If you don't want player have skills above a level 12 and want most skills off of default..tell them. If you imagine that most PCs will have at most 10cp in skills...tell them. If you only expect them to put points in adventure related skills...tell them. If on the other hand you expect them to put cp in skills that may never come up in game because it creates a well rounded character, tell them that.

Because GURPS can be so many things, I think it is really important to have a conversation with the players so they know what the expectations are in your particular way of running GURPS.

That said, all of that done, I don't curate the list of skills for my players. Rather I just have a conversation with them about their character concept. They tell me what sort of character they want to play, and I say...well, these skills seem to fit with that concept. If they do want to look at a list of skills, I let them look at the the GURPS Skill Categories PDF, which lists skills down by category, so if they are looking to be a Thief, they can just look over the Theif category. http://www.warehouse23.com/products/...ill-categories

Donny Brook 06-16-2017 02:39 PM

Re: Tips for avoiding skill bloat; Pro skills
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by FF_Ninja (Post 2105370)
With how GURPS handles skills, I'm used to there being a lot of skill bloat (and much of that being fat) and skill malnutrition. In Case A, players get a whole butt-load of 1-point skills for cheap, falling into the "I want dis" mentality. In Case B on the other hand, players have a hard time determining how to properly spend points on skills in order to make a fully fleshed-out character experience.

I'm not sure I understand the issue. Are you looking for a middle path between those cases?

Quote:

Professional skills. When does one roll vs a pro skill, instead of a normal skill? Example: One of my characters wants to be a cop, so that's Pro: Law Enforcement. But how would that work? Would it replace or overlap with other skills? I think I know how to work with overlap (synergy bonuses are a nice method), but I could use a hard and fast guideline of when to use a Pro skill vs. a normal skill, if both are applicable in theory.
There's no reason two or more skills could not be chosen to roll against depending on what is happening. (E.g. You can roll Knot-Tying to tie knots, but if you don't have it or just prefer you can roll Climbing-3.) So there is no reason a professional skill might not apply in a situation already covered by another skill. In some genres and maybe in real life, police officers frequently identify vehicle makes, so you could roll against Professional Skill (Police) to do that, but you could also roll against Connoisseur (Automobiles).

Generally speaking, a professional skill can be rolled for anything you thing a professional in that category would have learned to do the job.

whswhs 06-16-2017 03:14 PM

Re: Tips for avoiding skill bloat; Pro skills
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by trooper6 (Post 2105410)
I don't think there is one answer for this question because there are different schools in how to think about skills in GURPS.

Some GMs prefer the PCs have few skills (5-10) at lower skill levels (12 being for their best skills) and do most things off of default. Other GMs prefer the PCs have more skills at higher levels.]

Just to illustrate, in my current fantasy campaign, the five player characters started out like this: number of skills ranging from 25 to 39, average 33; points in skills ranging from 48 to 88, average 70; highest skill costing 4, 8, 8, 8, and 16 points. You can see that the average is just over 2 points invested per skill, but there were quite a few skills with only 1 point invested to balance out the ones with 4 or more points invested.

Player characters were built on 200 points. They were designed to be adventurers who could sail off to unknown lands and have a reasonable chance of coming back.

I encourage players to take (a) the skills that are needed for their character's occupation or role, (b) skills that they would likely have picked up during their earlier lives as they describe them, and (c) a couple of skills for characterization. I also may note a few defaults that are likely to come up in play. In this campaign, four of the five PCs had some knowledge of Path/Book magic, which added to the length of their skill lists.

On the other hand, I've run a campaign where the PCs were 14-year-old boys who were starting to study magic at university. They were built on a budget of 75 points, which had to include at least Magery 0 and Legal Immunity 1, and usually included some Status and Wealth, not to mention buying up IQ a bit. So they didn't have a lot of skills.

Really, for me, it's a question of "what fits the narrative?"

trooper6 06-16-2017 03:34 PM

Re: Tips for avoiding skill bloat; Pro skills
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by whswhs (Post 2105425)
Really, for me, it's a question of "what fits the narrative?"

I want to agree with this very much. Not only are there GM styles, GM's may also adopt different styles based on what the specific campaign is.

So...there isn't just one answer.

Dustin 06-16-2017 04:14 PM

Re: Tips for avoiding skill bloat; Pro skills
 
Collapsing some of the skills can help, but you'd need to make a list, or borrow someone else's list, of reduced skills.
  • Stealth could include Shadowing
  • Guns (Longarm) to include both Rifle and Shotgun
  • Sleight of Hand includes Pickpocket and Filch

I also often allow players to keep 3-5 pts reserved and unspent to spend on "oops, my character should know X" skills in the first few sessions. This helps reduce the pressure to get everything perfect, which is hard for a skill set on modern characters, and nearly impossible in higher tech settings.

Gnome 06-16-2017 05:17 PM

Re: Tips for avoiding skill bloat; Pro skills
 
GURPS Skill Categories is a free resource that I have found helpful. I also recommend GURPS Template Toolkit 1: Characters, even if you're not planning on using templates. One chapter of that pdf categorizes the skill list into "niches."

evileeyore 06-16-2017 07:07 PM

Re: Tips for avoiding skill bloat; Pro skills
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Dustin (Post 2105446)
[*]Stealth could include Shadowing

I split Shadowing between Stealth and Observation, and basically dump the skill entirely.


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