Thursday, May 28, 2009

Swashbuckling: Skills

This is a short post, but I want to get this skill list out there so I can stop renaming everything back to SotC standard in future posts.

Whenever I start thinking about a new genre conversion, taking a close look at the skill list is one of the first things I do. I like to see what I can cut and what I can combine; rarely, I end up adding something. Regardless, I'm likely to do a lot of renaming. I find it goes a long way toward communicating the feel of the genre in question. For example, in "Spirit of the Sword," I could've left Science as Science, but renaming it to Physik gives it a totally different vibe in my mind.

Anyway, with that in mind, here's a skill list for "Spirit of the 17th Century."

Skill (New)
SotC Equivalent
Alertness Alertness
Arms Weapons
Art Art
Brawn Might, Endurance
Burglary Burglary
Chicanery Deceit
Connections Contacting
Empathy Empathy
Esprit Resolve
Firearms Guns
Fisticuffs Fists
Gambling Gambling
Horsemanship Drive, Survival's riding trapping
Legerdemain Sleight of Hand
Occult Mysteries
Perception Investigation
Physique Athletics, Endurance
Presence Leadership, Intimidation
Rapport Rapport
Resources Resources
Scholarship Academics
Science Science, Engineering
Seamanship Pilot
Stealth Stealth
Survival Survival, sans riding

For example, there's nothing wrong with Weapons and Fists, per se, but Arms and Fisticuffs just feels so much more right to me. Ditto Chicanery. Chicanery! Is there another RPG out there with a skill called Chicanery?

(I've also renamed consequences for this one: Trifling, Middling, and Grievous. "Well-placed, sir! You have struck me a Grievous Arm Cut Off, indeed!")

Anyway, a few things got combined, so maybe I ought to explain those.

Drive becomes Horsemanship, and deals with both riding horses and driving wagons/carriages/etc. Even though horse-drawn modes of transport are more central to this genre than to, say, fantasy, I still can't see having an entire skill just for carriages. In the source material, those who are good at riding horses are also capable when it comes to controlling a team of them. So Survival loses its horse-riding trapping and is completely about, y'know, survival.

Leadership and Intimidation combine, Voltron-like, to form Presence. Again, in the source material, force of personality is a big thing. Those who are intimidating are generally so because of their charisma. Anyone who wants to be decently intimidating without having any real ability to lead can supplement that with a boon (+1 Presence when intimidating) and an aspect or two, since it's likely to be a situational thing.

Likewise with Might and Endurance. Brawn is all that physical toughness in one skill.

Science kills Engineering and takes its stuff. I just don't think there should be a separation between these here. It's the Age of Enlightenment and/or Reason.

Contacting becomes Connections, which seems minor, I'll admit, but I think it contributes to the more social elements of the genre. It's not about being able to gather information; it's about being well-connected. Connections is the defensive skill in social conflicts, which I'll talk more about later.

And that's all the justification I feel I need to do for you people.

Oh, one last thing: Gamex. Gamex went well. I ran two "Legends of Anglerre" demo games, which were enjoyed by all (or seemed to be), and got some good feedback to boot. Most of the mechanical comments were actually about Starblazer and the differences between it and SotC. I've never met anyone -- in person, in real life -- who actually plays Starblazer, though several of us own the PDF, nor do I think I know anyone anymore who plays SotC as written, so for those in my groups who were already familiar with SotC/FATE, getting used to the way Starblazer does things was an additional obstacle, but hardly one we couldn't overcome.


szilard said...

I could see Esprit gaining some of Leadership as well...

also, Science and Engineering could be renamed to Natural Philosophy.

The only change I really don't like is Investigation to Perception. It will get too confused with Alertness...

Mike Olson said...

Esprit and Presence/Leadership are definitely related, but for mechanical purposes they need to be separated -- they're potentially mental-conflict attack and defense skills.

I haven't ruled out Natural Philosophy yet, believe me....

I agree that Perception could be better-named. I do want to rename Investigation, though, but for totally generic reasons. Too often I see Investigation interpreted as "detective work," when it's supposed to be sustained examination of an area. In D20 terms, it's Search to Alertness's Spot. So I want it to have a name that makes that more apparent. Any suggestions?

szilard said...

Reconnaissance? Inspection?

...or, you know, Search.

Anonymous said...

I dunno, the distinction of "this skill is for doing X, this other skill is for doing X for an extended period" seems pretty fiddly to me. Why not just combine Alertness and Investigation and let people use stunts if they want to distinguish? (If you look around at discussions of Search vs Spot, you can see there is also serious confusion there over when to use which)

You actually seem to be already doing this with the Endurance skill, which I like a lot -- it looks like it's being split and added to Might and Athletics?

On another note, where's the guns skill? How can you have musketeers with no muskets?

Mike Olson said...

Re: Investigation -- combining it with Alertness. I did that with "Spirit of the Fist," and I'm leaning towards that here. I can kinda see why the split exists in SotC, but it doesn't seem significant enough to continue to split them here.

Re: Guns -- it's Firearms here.