Friday, June 19, 2009
A skill is a task the character knows how to do. Skills are the basis for all actions a character takes in the game. All actions have an associated skill, from using weapons to cooking food. Even the characters attributes are used as skills.
A character uses a task on a regular basis to practice it, they have trained on this task with an instructor of some sort. In training and practice they learn to do this task better than someone trying the task for the first time. But training and practice do not prevent the character from trying to use a skill, they just do so at the default level.
Skills are written with just the bonus the skill provides to a roll, such as "Cooking +3". An attribute when used as a skill will be a bonus or penalty depending on if it is above or below 10. So a BS (Bodily Skill or dexterity) of 12 will be a +2 when used as a skill, but a BS of 9 is -1.
Skills are used two ways, in contest and non-contest situations. Contest situations is where a skill is directly used against another character's skill. This can be in combat, in a contest or just to compete with another character. In a contest roll the goal is to roll with a combined amount higher than the other character.
In a non-contest situation, the character is trying to achieve a goal. Depending on difficulty, the player must roll below half the controlling attribute plus the skill bonus and attribute modifier (amount above or below 10). So if a player has a skill of "Whip +3" and is going to use the whip to hit a target and the "Whip" skill is controlled by the BS attribute of 12, then the player must roll below 10 (12/2 = 6, +3skill = 8 +2attribute = 10). If the target is rather large and the character is very close then the difficulty modifier might be +4 or to roll under 14.
If a character needs to use an attribute as a skill in a non-contest situation then they use half the attribute plus the modifier (amount above or below 10). So, if a character must try to use their MI (Mental Influence or charisma) to persuade and their MI is 13 then they must roll under 10 (13/2 = 6.5, round up to 7, +3 = 10).
Skills are effected by injury because if a character takes damage, the damage can come directly from a skill or can come from a controlling attribute. A very high skill will not help if the controlling attribute gets too low.
A character can also use extra effort to make a skill successful. The character spends attribute points (the attribute points are subtracted just like the character had taken damage and must be healed back) and the points they spend can be used to raise a skill for a roll.
If a player wishes they can simply spend points at creation time to raise a controlling attribute and use their default skill for all rolls. This is permissible, but not encouraged. The issue is that a person must practice or be trained to perform some actions at some levels. A person who never went to school might be very intelligent, but if they were never taught to read then they might have a harder time reading than a less intelligent person who had been taught to read. So the difficulty modifier depends on the character's exposure to the situation.
If a character is in a contest situation but does not have the same skill as the other contestants, or has a higher skill they would like to substitute they may if they make a proper argument with the Game Master. A character in a cooking contest might have a low cooking skill but a high knife skill, they could use the knife skill to cut the food in a decorative way to participate in the contest.
A skill is not just the simple knowledge and practice to perform an action. An accomplished practitioner of a skill gains a reputation from fellow practicioners as well as customers/friends and the like. This reputation give the character another way to apply their skill because the skill has value beyond it's actual action. A skilled cook might be attacked by a gang of criminals, but the cook can use their reputation to scare the criminals or at least offer to cook for them.
Some skills are common to all characters in a given game world, if a skill is assumed to be known to "everyone" then it is part of the controlling attribute. If the character does not know that skill then it is a disadvantage and the character gets points at creation time to spend elsewhere. For example, in the modern USA it is assumed that all residents know how to speak and read English, if a resident can't then they get a penalty to read or speak English and can use those points to increase another skill or attribute. Usually these points will be used to speak or read a different language, but speaking or reading might not be required.
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