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Old 08-03-2021, 12:07 PM   #1
Crystalline_Entity
 
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Default Maintaining skills with no default

I think I'm being dense, but I'm trying to work out how to use the optional rule on Maintaining Skills on B294 for skills with no default.

The text says "If a skill with only one point in it degrades, it drops to default level (that is, you are no better than someone without training)". That's fine... if the skill has a default. But what if it doesn't?

As a specific example, I used to play the piano when I was younger, I certainly don't have a point in it now, it's degraded from lack of use in GURPS terms, but I can find my way around they keyboard and play simple pieces of music if I put my mind to it. This sounds like default usage to me, but Musical Instrument (Keyboard) has no default from an attribute.

Am I missing a rule here or is this just a case of "GURPS is not a reality simulator"?
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Old 08-03-2021, 12:28 PM   #2
TGLS
 
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Default Re: Maintaining skills with no default

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But what if it doesn't?
I believe the answer is: "The skill is completely atrophied and lost."
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Am I missing a rule here or is this just a case of "GURPS is not a reality simulator"?
It would seem to be the latter (Maybe there's something in "Back to School"?).

If you want a patch, then change the remainder of the paragraph to "If a skill with only one point in it degrades, the point is lost but the reduced skill level remains. Skill levels cannot drop below their default level or below zero."
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Old 08-03-2021, 12:28 PM   #3
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Default Re: Maintaining skills with no default

Those rules are a gameable approximation of learning. I wouldn't consider them realistic in the slightest. Well, maybe a little - but not much. This is one of the things that falls through the cracks. That said, as a house rule I allow a default for skills that weren't maintained because it breaks my suspension of disbelief that suddenly you can't (for example) play the piano. I use Attribute-4 for easy, -5 for average, -6 for hard, and -7 or more for very hard defaulted skills.
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Old 08-03-2021, 12:39 PM   #4
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Default Re: Maintaining skills with no default

I believe those rules were written before the Dabbler Perk existed. Personally, I'd say degraded skills simply drop by a further -1 until they hit the better of Default and the standard penalty for that difficulty (Att-4 for Easy, -5 for Average, -6 for Hard, and -7 for Very Hard). Note this means that once you learn something that lacks a default, you'll never completely forget how to do it.
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Old 08-03-2021, 12:41 PM   #5
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Default Re: Maintaining skills with no default

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I believe those rules were written before the Dabbler Perk existed. Personally, I'd say degraded skills simply drop by a further -1 until they hit the better of Default and the standard penalty for that difficulty (Att-4 for Easy, -5 for Average, -6 for Hard, and -7 for Very Hard). Note this means that once you learn something that lacks a default, you'll never completely forget how to do it.
That's clever and simple. I like it.
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Old 08-04-2021, 02:44 AM   #6
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Default Re: Maintaining skills with no default

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I believe those rules were written before the Dabbler Perk existed. Personally, I'd say degraded skills simply drop by a further -1 until they hit the better of Default and the standard penalty for that difficulty (Att-4 for Easy, -5 for Average, -6 for Hard, and -7 for Very Hard). Note this means that once you learn something that lacks a default, you'll never completely forget how to do it.
I like that idea, that sounds reasonable and fair.

Thank you everyone!
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Old 08-04-2021, 07:47 AM   #7
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Default Re: Maintaining skills with no default

I admit I approach the game from a far more gamist viewpoint than I do a realism viewpoint. I want it to feel real enough for a fun suspension of disbelief, cinematic tv shows for example. They give lip service to realism but not really. Almost any subject you know well you will realize these shows are very fakey. Yet for most it's good enough.

So I'm far more concerned with players breaking the GAME by min maxing certain things than I am the lack of realism in not losing skill points with disuse. I mean do you really want your PCs taking their list of skills and telling you they practice them between every adventure. Mark off some time. That is what mine would do.
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Old 08-04-2021, 06:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: Maintaining skills with no default

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
I believe those rules were written before the Dabbler Perk existed. Personally, I'd say degraded skills simply drop by a further -1 until they hit the better of Default and the standard penalty for that difficulty (Att-4 for Easy, -5 for Average, -6 for Hard, and -7 for Very Hard). Note this means that once you learn something that lacks a default, you'll never completely forget how to do it.
This is basically what I assumed you'd do, but seeing it written out is nice. I bolded the very important part because from what I've seen in real life, you very well can go a decade or more without using a skill and still have parts of it come right back as though you were never gone.

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have the character arrange some freaking flowers at some point within six months.
Reminds me of a write up I saw where the character had perk SOP: Uses each skill at least once per month. It was the equivalent to Rules Exemption: Skill Degradation and they didn't realize it until it was pointed out.

I personally don't and never even considered this optional rule. Instead, I just use it as justification for someone taking points out of a skill, especially for Impulse Buys. That one point in Professional: Janitor you have kicking around doing nothing for twenty campaigns? We can easily accept you lost it and picked up something else or got lucky.
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Old 08-06-2021, 06:57 AM   #9
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Default Re: Maintaining skills with no default

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This is basically what I assumed you'd do, but seeing it written out is nice. I bolded the very important part because from what I've seen in real life, you very well can go a decade or more without using a skill and still have parts of it come right back as though you were never gone.
As a corollary to this, for GM's who enjoy complexity, it should probably be easier to regain lost skill levels than it was to gain them in the first place. I'd be inclined to apply a x4 multiplier to any points invested, or time spent learning, until the character is back up to wherever he/she left off. Someone who used to have Bow at DX+2 [8] but has had it degrade all the way down to its default of DX-5 [0] is going to pick it back up faster than someone who has never used a bow before.

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I personally don't and never even considered this optional rule. Instead, I just use it as justification for someone taking points out of a skill, especially for Impulse Buys. That one point in Professional: Janitor you have kicking around doing nothing for twenty campaigns? We can easily accept you lost it and picked up something else or got lucky.
Yeah, this feels like a better way to handle it. Personally, I think of the six-month degradation as being largely an afterthought of the rule - the real meat-and-potatoes part of it is the daily degradation of extreme skill levels, which can (potentially) be used to keep skill levels from getting too high (or at least stop one character from having a lot of skills at high level, as there are only so many hours in the day to practice). Simply exercising the GM's right to say "No" is often a better solution, of course.
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Old 08-07-2021, 07:56 PM   #10
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Default Re: Maintaining skills with no default

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As a corollary to this, for GM's who enjoy complexity, it should probably be easier to regain lost skill levels than it was to gain them in the first place. I'd be inclined to apply a x4 multiplier to any points invested, or time spent learning, until the character is back up to wherever he/she left off. Someone who used to have Bow at DX+2 [8] but has had it degrade all the way down to its default of DX-5 [0] is going to pick it back up faster than someone who has never used a bow before.
My simple rule is that if you don't get points back for losing it, you don't have to spend points to get it back. If someone loses an arm, they can (if possible) just go to the high tech doctor or healing wizard and get it back, but the person who has One Arm can't without buying off the disad. Someone who forgot a skill can pick it back up with a little bit of training. For an exact mechanic, I'd probably have it be a handful of hours per point with a max of a month of 'hobby' hours to get it back, or have it retrain as though you were gaining a familiarity (which I can't remember the rules for).

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Yeah, this feels like a better way to handle it. Personally, I think of the six-month degradation as being largely an afterthought of the rule - the real meat-and-potatoes part of it is the daily degradation of extreme skill levels, which can (potentially) be used to keep skill levels from getting too high (or at least stop one character from having a lot of skills at high level, as there are only so many hours in the day to practice). Simply exercising the GM's right to say "No" is often a better solution, of course.
I absolutely echo the No. In fact, I'd far rather a GM tell me "no" than to punish me for something they didn't want me to take. I've actually seen a lighter version of this rule used once; It has no effect on regular skill levels. For high (I think it's +10?) skills, you get a flat -2 if you didn't maintain it today, and -1 if you did a small amount (like five minutes or two uses, whichever is better). You don't lose the skill, you just lose the edge temporarily.
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