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Old 07-13-2015, 04:41 PM   #1
JMason
 
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Default Skill+, an alternative to Wildcard Skills

I've been tooling around with an idea for something between the standard skills system and wildcard skills for a bit and even wrote it up on my blog (http://diceanddiscourse.blogspot.com/2015/07/skill.html), but I wanted to run it by the folks here and see what they thought.

Here is the basic idea: A "Skill+" is a meta-skill that encompass several related skills. You could think of it as broad cross-training in a specific area. In game terms it a Skill+ can replace a skill that requires specialization (if those specializations default to each other), or a set of skills that all cross-default.

Since the Skill+ represents the training for all the skills, the other skills default off it better than they default from one another. I'm putting this at half the average default from the other skills.

But I thought it would be a problem to have a skill on a character sheet that is only there for defaults, so why not "buy up" the skill to match the defaults? Since skill cost caps at 4 points, I set the cost of the skill

Here is an example:

Beam Weapons+/TL, DX/E. The Beam Weapon(X) skills default to each other at -4, so the added cost is 8 (half of -4 is -2, 2x4 = 8). So, the skill cost progression is: DX+0 [9], DX+1[10], DX+2[12], DX+3[16].

Any thoughts on this? Is the cost fair?
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Old 07-13-2015, 06:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: Skill+, an alternative to Wildcard Skills

If you want to make GURPS skill list a bit more user-friendly, I'd make two recommendations...

First, set the cost so that Skill at Attribute+1 is [x] and every level after that is also [x]. That way you can simplify it to 'every level of skill costs [x], add your skill level directly to the attribute'. The way that you buy skills in GURPS is the single biggest sticking point I have with new players. Nobody seems to grasp the system intuitively and even with the skill cost table right in front of them, I've still had players tell me they couldn't figure out how skills cost. I'd go with defining expanded skills as costing double what an average skill does.

Secondly, although it's a lot of work, you need to provide a skill list. There's no point saying that the existing list is too long and not providing an alternative list.
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Old 07-14-2015, 11:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: Skill+, an alternative to Wildcard Skills

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMason View Post
Here is an example:

Beam Weapons+/TL, DX/E. The Beam Weapon(X) skills default to each other at -4, so the added cost is 8 (half of -4 is -2, 2x4 = 8). So, the skill cost progression is: DX+0 [9], DX+1[10], DX+2[12], DX+3[16].

Any thoughts on this? Is the cost fair?
I think you are trying too hard to keep the costs similar to buying the individual skills. That may feel like something you need to do for fairness or balance, but it probably really isn't - skills aren't priced for balance in the first place.

Any explanation that contains the word "defaults" is likely compounding the problem you are looking to fix. Skill to skill defaults are one of GURPS little flaws really, a lot of complexity for not much gain, if you are still thinking in terms of them and just adjusting the numbers you aren't gaining much at best, and may very well be making the whole thing more complex than it started at.

I'd suggest either charging 1 point per additional specialty to roll at full skill for it (essentially treat the other specialization as a Skill Adaptation perk), or going with what would be the genuine intermediate for Wildcard skills - double the cost instead of triple it.

Edit: Another alternative might be to add 1 point *per skill level* to cover all the specialties, so the cost progression would be 2, 3, 5, 9, +5 per further level instead of 1 2 4 8 +4. In the limit this then has the same pricing as a narrow Talent, and narrow Talents seem like a good place to start looking for skills you can combine.
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Last edited by malloyd; 07-14-2015 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 07-14-2015, 12:49 PM   #4
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Default Re: Skill+, an alternative to Wildcard Skills

Quote:
Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
Any explanation that contains the word "defaults" is likely compounding the problem you are looking to fix. Skill to skill defaults are one of GURPS little flaws really, a lot of complexity for not much gain, if you are still thinking in terms of them and just adjusting the numbers you aren't gaining much at best, and may very well be making the whole thing more complex than it started at.
Seconded! Defaults are about simulationism, not game balance.

I ran a game where I offered something like this:

Quote:
You can purchase the advantage "All familiarities" for [10] points. It grants 2 points in each of the specialities, and they can be raised independently after that. This is pretty much equivalent to buying the bang skill at [12] for Hard skills. For easy skills, like guns, its better, but I don't think its particularly broken (particularly in the case of guns and its -2 defaults), and the thought of taking it on fast draw just makes me laugh.

write it like this:
engineering(all) H IQ-1 [(2)] *
engineering(life support systems) H IQ [(2)+2] *

And under advantages:
All familarities (engineering) [10]*
We found it useful, and it was a decent alternative to wildcard skills -- though we had some people take true wild cards in that game as well. Its main benefit over wildcards was that it stacked with talent. I did specify that some particularly open ended skills (like professional skill) were not valid for the advantage.
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Old 07-14-2015, 04:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: Skill+, an alternative to Wildcard Skills

For skills with a lot of fiddly little specializations - such as Piloting, Guns, and Mechanic - I often permit players to take the core skill for "All Specialities" at one level higher; for example, Guns (All) is DX/A, while Mechanic (All) is IQ/H and Piloting (all) is DX/H. In essence, it reverse-engineers the optional specialties rule for skills that generally have mandatory specialties. This works best with skills that have specialties that have generous cross-defaults, particularly in cinematic games where a pilot can fly a helicopter, a starfighter, a Harrier, and a Tomcat with equal skill, and a mechanic can build or fix nearly anything the Mechanic skill could conceivably cover (but not Electronics Repair, which could also be covered with this rule).
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Old 07-14-2015, 08:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: Skill+, an alternative to Wildcard Skills

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perfect Organism View Post
If you want to make GURPS skill list a bit more user-friendly, I'd make two recommendations...

First, set the cost so that Skill at Attribute+1 is [x] and every level after that is also [x]. That way you can simplify it to 'every level of skill costs [x], add your skill level directly to the attribute'. The way that you buy skills in GURPS is the single biggest sticking point I have with new players. Nobody seems to grasp the system intuitively and even with the skill cost table right in front of them, I've still had players tell me they couldn't figure out how skills cost. I'd go with defining expanded skills as costing double what an average skill does.

Secondly, although it's a lot of work, you need to provide a skill list. There's no point saying that the existing list is too long and not providing an alternative list.
1) While I don't disagree, I'm not sure I want to throw out the existing skill cost progression. This system is not going to replace every skill, so it might be odd if I have to use two different skill progression charts. (yes, I sort of am, but only for the first level as a "buy-in"

2) I'm doing this now. first I am just going to collect the skills that require specializations that default to each other. This will not really shorten the skill list, but is a place to start and addresses one of my main complaints: sci-fi techies needing tons and tons of skills.



Quote:
Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
<snip>

Any explanation that contains the word "defaults" is likely compounding the problem you are looking to fix. Skill to skill defaults are one of GURPS little flaws really, a lot of complexity for not much gain, if you are still thinking in terms of them and just adjusting the numbers you aren't gaining much at best, and may very well be making the whole thing more complex than it started at.

I'd suggest either charging 1 point per additional specialty to roll at full skill for it (essentially treat the other specialization as a Skill Adaptation perk), or going with what would be the genuine intermediate for Wildcard skills - double the cost instead of triple it.

Edit: Another alternative might be to add 1 point *per skill level* to cover all the specialties, so the cost progression would be 2, 3, 5, 9, +5 per further level instead of 1 2 4 8 +4. In the limit this then has the same pricing as a narrow Talent, and narrow Talents seem like a good place to start looking for skills you can combine.
To your first point: This system is in some ways removing defaults and replacing them with Skill+'s that contain all the various skills. Sure the explanation involves them, but in-play they have been replaced.

On cost +1 per additional skill: Hm, this is interesting. The only issue is with skills that could have any number of specializations. For example in a space game you have Biology+, but there are hundreds of inhabited worlds!

On the cost +1 per level: I'm not sure I understand this. You have the cost at one higher than normal for the first 4 levels, but each level after that is one more added to it... did you mean for the progression to be 2, 4, 7, 12, then +5?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Seconded! Defaults are about simulationism, not game balance.

I ran a game where I offered something like this:

<snip>
This isn't that dissimilar than what I am doing. If I took the "buy up" price out of the skill and made it an advantage.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tbrock1031 View Post
For skills with a lot of fiddly little specializations - such as Piloting, Guns, and Mechanic - I often permit players to take the core skill for "All Specialities" at one level higher; for example, Guns (All) is DX/A, while Mechanic (All) is IQ/H and Piloting (all) is DX/H. In essence, it reverse-engineers the optional specialties rule for skills that generally have mandatory specialties. This works best with skills that have specialties that have generous cross-defaults, particularly in cinematic games where a pilot can fly a helicopter, a starfighter, a Harrier, and a Tomcat with equal skill, and a mechanic can build or fix nearly anything the Mechanic skill could conceivably cover (but not Electronics Repair, which could also be covered with this rule).
Again, this is similar to what I am doing (and one of the ideas that I played with when coming up with Skill+). But this really just equates to turning all the skills defaulting from the core at -1 or the skill costing 4 extra points (if past the first few levels), depending on how you want to look at it. This seems a bit cheap to me.

---

Thanks of the feedback so far. Many of these ideas are ones that I have played with, but I'm still not convinces that they do a better job at pricing this sort of meta-skill.

I may move the cost into an advantage. So far every skill I've looked at has most of the defaults at -4, so I'm tempted to just make the cost 8 points for all and leave it at that.

The "perk" idea appeals to me, but it may need a upper cap so the price can stay reasonable.
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Old 01-20-2016, 03:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: Skill+, an alternative to Wildcard Skills

Did you ever write up your final solution?
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Old 01-21-2016, 07:00 AM   #8
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Default Re: Skill+, an alternative to Wildcard Skills

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbrock1031 View Post
For skills with a lot of fiddly little specializations - such as Piloting, Guns, and Mechanic - I often permit players to take the core skill for "All Specialities" at one level higher; for example, Guns (All) is DX/A, while Mechanic (All) is IQ/H and Piloting (all) is DX/H. In essence, it reverse-engineers the optional specialties rule for skills that generally have mandatory specialties. This works best with skills that have specialties that have generous cross-defaults, particularly in cinematic games where a pilot can fly a helicopter, a starfighter, a Harrier, and a Tomcat with equal skill, and a mechanic can build or fix nearly anything the Mechanic skill could conceivably cover (but not Electronics Repair, which could also be covered with this rule).
I find this an elegant solution.
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