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Old 07-11-2018, 08:05 AM   #1
scc
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Default Minimum Skill Count

Some people in my recent thread about the Magic seem to think characters shouldn't have very many skills, one person saying a character should have between 4 and 10, and I believe another saying that if a character has more then 15 skills the GM should be looking over the campaign, lets look at how wrong this was.

So using a character from modern day New York City as an example we'll look at what skills a character should have.

Housekeeping, because they need to eat and keep their apartment clean.
Navigation (Land) so you can find your way around.
Area Knowledge, how can you not know stuff about the city you live in?
Current Affairs, at the very least for NYC, also possible a state and national or even international versions depending upon how much you keep up with the news.

Computer Operation, you live in the 21st century after all, you can use a computer.
Savoir-Faire or Streetwise, you can talk to people right?
Hiking, Driving, or Bicycling, you have some means of getting around.
Accounting assuming you can balance a checkbook and aren't living paycheck to paycheck.
Administration or maybe something like Bureaucracy, because you have to deal with the government at some point
Urban Survival, enough said.

And that's a minimum of 10 and possibly more if you decide to take multiple options and this doesn't cover occupational or dramatic role and it's easy to add more like Sex Appeal for women or Hidden Lore (New York Subway System) for a humorous campaign.
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:34 AM   #2
SilvercatMoonpaw
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Default Re: Minimum Skill Count

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Area Knowledge, how can you not know stuff about the city you live in?
I'm living proof of it.
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...like Sex Appeal for women...
Since when does this apply to only women?
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:48 AM   #3
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Minimum Skill Count

You don't need Navigation (Land) to find your way around, though it does help. But you can do it with Area Knowledge (or even with default Area Knowledge) for a place you're familiar with. Or you can ask for directions.

Many people don't ever balance their checkbooks; they trust their banks to keep accurate figures, and go online to check their current balances. Or so the teller at my bank told me. And in any case balancing a checkback uses Accounting at default; it's single-entry, after all.

If you've never had to live out of doors overnight in your city, you won't have Urban Survival at higher than default.

I think a lot of people don't have Administration; when they have to deal with government, they go in, say what they want, and are given a list of documents they need to bring. And if they make money from drug dealing, for example, they may never have occasion to deal with government for anything, at least not voluntarily.
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Last edited by whswhs; 07-11-2018 at 08:56 AM.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:12 AM   #4
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: Minimum Skill Count

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Originally Posted by scc View Post
S

So using a character from modern day New York City as an example we'll look at what skills a character should have.

Housekeeping, because they need to eat and keep their apartment clean.
Navigation (Land) so you can find your way around.
Area Knowledge, how can you not know stuff about the city you live in?
Current Affairs, at the very least for NYC, also possible a state and national or even international versions depending upon how much you keep up with the news.

Computer Operation, you live in the 21st century after all, you can use a computer.
Savoir-Faire or Streetwise, you can talk to people right?
Hiking, Driving, or Bicycling, you have some means of getting around.
Accounting assuming you can balance a checkbook and aren't living paycheck to paycheck.
Administration or maybe something like Bureaucracy, because you have to deal with the government at some point
Urban Survival, enough said.
Housekeeping: for a TL6 housewife who works at it all day but a TL8 urbanite who works at it part-time at best? Not so much. Maybe at default.

Navigation(Land): is for finding your way through the trackless wilderness. Not places with street signs.

Area Knowledge is a maybe but a lot of people probably use it at default.

Current Affairs is a pretty definte no. See late night talk shows shows and their "Man in the street" segments.

Computer Operation is a probable yes.

Savoir Faire is for high status people and Streetwise is for low Status types. there's no Skill for talking to people of equal Status. There isn't really a Skill thatis required jsut to talk to people anyway.

Hiking si for people who walk all day with the seriouis intent of covering ground. You don't need the Skill jsut to walk. Bicycling the same. Driving is a maybe for people who drive every day.

Adminstratiomn is for working bureaucrats. Just because regualr folks ahve to deal with bureaucracies doesn't mean they're any good at it.

Accounting is another Prfessional skill gnerally limited to persons working in that profession.

In general there was a lot of "If someone does something they have to have a Skill to cover it!" on your list and that just isn't true as a basic principle.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:30 AM   #5
Celjabba
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Default Re: Minimum Skill Count

There are 2 schools of thinking about default/1 point in skill for routine, day-to-day skills:

-One consider that most people operate at default, or at most a dabbler perk on most day-to-day skills, with a full skill point (or more) reserved to notably skilled people.
-the other consider that anyone using a skill more than occasionally have at least a dabbler skill, with a full point gained very fast as soon as you start using it regularly. Higher level being harder to earn.

If yous subscribe to the first, "common" people operate at default on most skills in your list.
If yous subscribe to the second (I do in most games), they would have at least Area Knowledge(local), Housekeeping, computer operations and (if they own a car) driving at the 1 point level. And a dabbler perk for a few more area knowledge(s) and current affair(s).

other likely skills to consider (default or 1 pt, as above): hobby skill, professional skill, art skill, sport skill, Sex-appeal, carousing, swimming, first-aid
Hiking, bicycling : if they walk/cycle everyday.

Streetwise, urban survival are unlikely for "common" people with a stable housing.
Accounting, administration, savoir-faire, navigation : unlikely unless their job involve those skills.

Last edited by Celjabba; 07-11-2018 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:39 AM   #6
malloyd
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Default Re: Minimum Skill Count

A few of these I expect a majority to have 1 point in; most people probably do in Housekeeping, and one of those transportation skills, though it's certainly possible not to. Others (like Area Knowledge or Current Affairs) have good enough "defaults" for your home area you don't really need to - those probably should have been implemented as free points, like your native language, but they weren't. I'd add the Sex Appeal/Savoir Faire here as another pick one requirement - default reaction rolls in GURPS are pretty bad, so I expect plausible characters have a point in a go-to social skill. And I expect one point in something you could have used to hold the job that fed you before you took up adventuring.

For the rest, well Navigation (Land) is a no (you find your way around with Area Knowledge, nobody travels a city with a compass). Urban Survival is pretty much out unless you've spent months homeless. Computer Operation is relatively common, but certainly not a majority - if you install or configure software for something other than defaults perhaps, but you don't need it to operate out of the box stuff any more than you need Electronics Operation to operate a pay phone or change the TV channel. And nobody who has ever worked a public facing government job is going to believe a majority of people have actual Administration skill - even at the level of filling out forms, which probably doesn't call for an actual skill roll, you are lucky if they've even *read* the directions, let alone followed them with understanding.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:57 AM   #7
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: Minimum Skill Count

I generally require characters to have a minimum of one point in an Area Knowledge, one point in a Current Affair, one point in a Game, and one point in a Hobby Skill. In general, I believe that normal people will have half of their points invested in various specialties of those skills, though adventurers are not normal people, so they do not need more than four points in those skills. Other than that, I think that normal people will have a fair amount of points in Driving and a fair amount of points in the skills related to their job.
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:03 AM   #8
ericthered
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Default Re: Minimum Skill Count

People have hobbies, and they have jobs. A sheet that doesn't reflect either and possibly both looks sparse.


I disagree that Navigation (land) is only for wilderness. If only because some cities are MORE confusing! Street signs are only so helpful. However, most of us don't know how to drive to an arbitrary location quickly. We stop and look at maps, study things out, take wrong turns... or we use GPS. Only give someone navigation if they are constantly assigned new locations to travel to, or at least new routes.



I would say that a majority of people have current affairs of one sort or another... but ones less useful for adventuring are common. Sports, People, Popular culture, and and Science and Technology are all just as common as Politics or regional.



Area knowledge is not something I'd stick on 80% or even 50% of sheets. It requires really knowing the place where you live. Some professions and hobbies are good at bestowing this, as are some life-styles.



Administration is not universal, but it'd say its pretty common among those who work in an office. Its easy to justify, though not necessary.



Of course, when assigning skills we're usually interested in heroic characters who are good at the things they do.
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:54 AM   #9
A Ladder
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Default Re: Minimum Skill Count

I run adventures, not "we're real life people in real life doing real life stuff", so I expect my players' PCs to adventure competent. This doesn't reflect real life but I think reflects more of what people who play RPGs expect to be doing.

I don't necessarily follow Kromm's List of SkillsTM but I do suggest my players have most of the following categories covered:
---------
a Hand to Hand combat skill
a Melee weapon skill
a Ranged weapon skill
An "info gathering" skill: think Forensics, Search, Observation, Research, etc.
A "social" skill: anything from Intimidation, Fast Talk, Savior-Faire, Carousing, etc.
A "I know something about my background" skill: This where Area Knowledge, Streetwise, more Savior-Faire, Computer Operation, etc. come in.
A "getting around" skill: Driving, Riding, Navigation, Boating, etc.

The following skills are not mandatory, but if you don't have them you will be seriously inconvenienced in my games and will probably cause your teammates to fail at a mission: Stealth, Throwing, Climbing, Swimming, First Aid.

Then after those bases have been covered players are to add skills that their character should have (Wizards: pick up Thaumatology and some Hidden Lore, Detectives: grab Law (Police) and Interrogation, Ninja: Acrobatics and Camouflage, Infiltrator: Lockpicking and E/O: Security, etc.). Some character archetypes need more skills to do their job, some less.
--------
So in my games I expect players to have a minimum of at least 12 skills. They typically have more like 20+. I expect my players to get in fights (with or without weapons and at a variety of ranges). I expect my players to have to find out info, influence NPCs, and come up with ways to get into dangerous or hard to get to locations. There will be most likely times when they need to sneak, toss something, get over a vertical obstacle, or not drown. I also let my players split up, get captured, and/or generally might not always be able to rely on their Specialist buddies to carry them through every scene where they neglected to put points.



I always tell my players to set aside at least 30 points for skills. If I see a character sheet that's just Attributes and Advantages I send it back to them to revise. If they don't....well their PC gets punished in game. Not because I'm mean, but because this will probably come up: "Roll Strength based Climbing at -2 to hold onto the bridge because it's swaying and your buddies doused it in flammable oil...Oh? No Climbing? Default is attribute -5, but remember the additional -2."
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:57 AM   #10
Culture20
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Default Re: Minimum Skill Count

Street signs are only helpful *because* we all have been taught some basic things about street signs. Whether that’s a cultural familiarity or a skill, deciphering pictographic street signs is something that a caveman or Hutt can’t do when transported to 2018 Boston. Planned cities like Manhattan or D.C. make navigation easier, but only if you know they’re planned.

Hobby skills exist for a reason.

Area Knowledge (home town) at default is only appropriate for shut-ins, hermits, or amnesiacs. Everyone else knows something about their neighborhood, nearby shops, streets, and generic town layout.

Also driving: The most common people driving at default in modern USA are 15-16 year olds who are learning. People older than that exist who have never learned to drive, and they are just as bad at it. Driving is a skill with actual points in it. The high number of crashes you see (which are very small, statistically) are because of people choosing to take difficulty penalties (eating/doing makeup/talking on phone/texting/driving much faster than traffic). Default driving is not the norm, and in fact is illegal without a learner’s permit and a passenger who can drive.

There are a lot of skills people have in common with their neighbors in modern society which should be accounted for because GURPS includes settings like IW. The caveman and Hutt don’t have 20 incompetent quirks; they just don’t have 12 years of mandatory education from this era. They are the ones defaulting (the Hutt gets more default options due to higher TL), not Joe Office-Worker. (and conversely, Joe Office-Worker defaults on fire-starting, bow, and blaster pistol skills, as well as Area Knowledge in Nal-Hutta and the Lost World)

Last edited by Culture20; 07-11-2018 at 11:07 AM.
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