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Old 08-10-2015, 04:34 AM   #1
vicky_molokh
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Default Alternate GURPS: Seeking a minimalistic (25-50) skill list . . .

Greetings, all!

This thread is partially inspired by the observation that in GURPS, attributes are relatively cheap compared to skills, such that a wide specialist, and often even a moderate specialist, is too often best built using high attributes.

GURPS' enormous skill list is kinda notorious, and it was barely reduced in 4e. Wildcards, while superficially similar to broad skills, actually serve a different purpose than unified skills, and are priced non-favourably compared to attributes anyway.

So, what I'm thinking is an Alternate GURPS / houserule idea of making a minimalistic generic skill list. As in, fitting not for any one specific setting or genre, but rather flexible enough to cover everything, and in such a way as to prevent further skill creep like 'and now let us add a new Professional Skill (Fisher), because having a Fishing skill is not enough'. That is to say, the intent is to make every skilled task encounterable strictly covered by no less than one standard skill. Sure, unfamiliarity penalties can be a thing, but the intent is to make sure that after gaining the proper familiarities, people don't need to add a second or even third page of a skill list.

Looking at other systems, ones that tend to build skills on the assumption that everything falls under at least one predefined skill, I'm seeing Exalted use 25 (though with specialisations within Craft, which got out of hand for them Real Fast) , FATE Core default to 18, and various incarnations of WoD seem to go for around 30 before adding the skill-bloat-creep supplements. I think GURPS' legacy will make it difficult to reduce the skill list below 50, but even that would be really nice compared to the current list of primary-skills, category-skills and mandatory-specialisation-skills in the Basic Set alone (before counting stuff found all over the place).

I'm not saying that specialisations should be impossible to buy, but it would be nice to avoid bloated charsheets that anyone wanting a flexible character has to deal with. I'm also, once again, not looking for a list that is meant for some specific campaign, but rather a universal/generic one that can be adapted to any or almost any campaign.

If someone's interested in the goal, I'm interested in reading comments, ideas etc.
Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-10-2015, 05:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: Alternate GURPS: Seeking a minimalistic (25-50) skill list . . .

Some thoughts on grouping up skills:

Accounting, Administration, Politics, Law, Current Affairs (Business), Finance, Merchant, Research, Market Analysis, Economics, Heraldry, and less-artistic uses of Writing - covered by Bureaucracy.

Assorted ranged weapon skills covered by Marksmanship, with a strong attention to TL-related familiarities (so e.g. no easily picking up a bow and sniping with it until you adapt to using without penalty).

Linguistics, Public Speaking, Writing, Detect Lies, Literature, Poetry, Artist (Calligraphy and Illumination), Gesture, Propaganda, Lip Reading - covered by the Wordsmith skill.

Acrobatics, Aerobatics, Aquabatics, Climbing, Running (sprint), Skiing (sprint), Swimming (sprint), Jumping, Free-Fall, Body Sense, Dancing, - Athletics.

Running/Skiing/Swimming (endurance), Power Blow, Hobby (Feats Of Strength), Roll With The Blow, Lifting, Breath Control, Hiking, Forced Entry - Toughness or Physique.

Acting, Fast-Talk, Disguise, Mimicry (Human Speech), Make-Up, Feints and Ruses in combat, optionally Holdout - Guile or Deceit.

Animal Handling, Falconry, Riding, Packing, - Animal Ken.

Armoury, Mechanic, Carpentry, Cooking, Architecture etc. - Craftsman, with strict familiarities.

First Aid, Physician, Diagnosis, Physiology, Autohypnosis, Biology, Esoteric Medicine, Hazmat (Bio), Hypnotism, Genetics, Bioengineering, biological uses of Chemistry, Poisons, Forensic (biomedical), Body Language - covered by Biotech.

Camouflage, Survival (non-urban), Fishing, Mimicry (Birds and Animals), Tracking, Hiking, Weather Sense/Meteorology, Swimming, Naturalist - covered by Outdoorsman.

Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Linguistics, Physics, Physiology, Mathematics, Cryptology - Science.

Computer Operation/Programming/Hacking, Electronics Operation/Repair/Engineering, Cryptology, - Wire Rat.

Criminology, Tracking, Traps (detection and disarming), ElOps (Security), Forensics, Search, Observation - Investigation.

Psychology, Body Language, Detect Lies, Brainwashing, Brain Hacking, Sociology, Interrogation, Hypnotism, Autohypnosis/Meditation, Propaganda, Memetics, Teaching - Psych.

Streetwise, Intimidation, Gambling, Pickpocket, Lockpicking, Savoir-Faire (Mafia), Filch, Surival (Urban), Traps, Forced Entry, Forensics/Housekeeping (only to remove clues), Forgery/Counterfeiting, Holdout, Escape, Smuggling - Larceny.
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Old 08-10-2015, 05:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: Alternate GURPS: Seeking a minimalistic (25-50) skill list . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Some thoughts on grouping up skills:

Accounting, Administration, Politics, Law, Current Affairs (Business), Finance, Merchant, Research, Market Analysis, Economics, Heraldry, and less-artistic uses of Writing - covered by Bureaucracy...
Politics, Current Affairs (business), Current Affairs (politics), Economics, Public Speaking, writing, Propaganda, History! Research, Philosophy (Marxism), Merchant (selling radical papers and books etc), Enthralment, Persuade. Socialist Agitator?
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Old 08-10-2015, 05:50 AM   #4
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Default Re: Alternate GURPS: Seeking a minimalistic (25-50) skill list . . .

I'm not sure I understand the purpose of this effort, but I see downsides.

Certainly in many of the examples given it seems to me that it is possible, and even likely, that a person would have some of the skills within an umbrella and not others. For example the typical maverick litigation lawyer is typically tempermentally unfit for learning a lot of Administration.

On the other hand, I would consider reducing inter-skill defaults by 1 across the board.
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Old 08-10-2015, 06:15 AM   #5
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Default Re: Alternate GURPS: Seeking a minimalistic (25-50) skill list . . .

This looks like a d6 skills list.
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Old 08-10-2015, 06:21 AM   #6
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Default Re: Alternate GURPS: Seeking a minimalistic (25-50) skill list . . .

If its supposed to look like a D6 skills list, could easily look at some of the sundry Open D6 books
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Old 08-10-2015, 07:24 AM   #7
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Default Re: Alternate GURPS: Seeking a minimalistic (25-50) skill list . . .

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Originally Posted by Donny Brook View Post
Certainly in many of the examples given it seems to me that it is possible, and even likely, that a person would have some of the skills within an umbrella and not others. For example the typical maverick litigation lawyer is typically tempermentally unfit for learning a lot of Administration.
Short of having literally millions of skills, that's going to be a problem no matter where you put the boundaries between them.

I suppose the other limit that still preserves some of the GURPS engine is not to have any skills at all. Just roll everything against the attribute you'd base the skill on instead. Effectively you have as many different skills as your game has attributes. This worked OK back before all games *had* skill lists, and still should.
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Old 08-11-2015, 05:17 AM   #8
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Default Re: Alternate GURPS: Seeking a minimalistic (25-50) skill list . . .

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
Short of having literally millions of skills, that's going to be a problem no matter where you put the boundaries between them.

I suppose the other limit that still preserves some of the GURPS engine is not to have any skills at all. Just roll everything against the attribute you'd base the skill on instead. Effectively you have as many different skills as your game has attributes. This worked OK back before all games *had* skill lists, and still should.
I wouldn't say it worked OK. I'd call it a constant problem that was improved massively by adding skills to games.
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Old 08-10-2015, 08:41 AM   #9
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Default Re: Alternate GURPS: Seeking a minimalistic (25-50) skill list . . .

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Originally Posted by Donny Brook View Post
For example the typical maverick litigation lawyer is typically tempermentally unfit for learning a lot of Administration.
Optional Specialization and Quirks should be able to cover cases like this. Your maverick might have IQ 12 and Bureaucracy-16, but has a Quirk that means for Administration tasks he's working off of the normal Bureaucracy default.

Ideally, you'd want all skills to be the same difficulty for simplicity, with Optional Specialization simply giving a bonus to skill. I'd probably allow two levels of Specialization - Specialized and Extremely Specialized. The former is +1 for your task of interest and -2 for everything else; the latter is +2 for your task of interest and you work off defaults for everything else. Hard is probably appropriate, making Defaulting always be -5, [1] is -2, [2] is -1, [4] is +0, and it costs an additional [4] for each +1.
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Old 08-10-2015, 05:19 PM   #10
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Default Re: Alternate GURPS: Seeking a minimalistic (25-50) skill list . . .

Have you considered just using the Niches/Challenges from Chapter 4 of GURPS Template Toolkit 1 - Characters? Granted, the Niches define a group of traits and skills to defeat a specific kind of challenge, but when you get down to having skills with a purpose in the game, what better way to limit them than by type of challenges?

There are 30 niches/challenges defined there, which isn't too large for a limited number of skills. It's not necessarily perfect... there's only a single "Combat" niche for example, so you don't divide between ranged and melee weapons as it was in your original suggestion, but then again, that's not so bad either as that tends to be more TL driven than anything else (you can throw in ranged vs melee as specialization). But it at least aligns up with the suggestions of character template design.
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