Skill Challenges – A Haunted DevBlog [5]

The majority of game play in an RPG comes from a character’s interactions with the world around them; whether through physical manipulation of objects and the environment, social interactions with other inhabitants or the use of their ‘mind palaces‘ to unlock the secrets of an investigation.

The skills to pay the bills.

The abilities outlined in a previous DevBlog go part-way to exploring the ways that a player can quantify their character’s attempt to perform a given task. For less general interactions, however, we need a more granular list of skills.

So far, so obvious, right.

Coming from a predominately 2nd and 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons background, I enjoyed the flexibility and freedom that a long list of skills gave a player… however, tempering that urge with some generalisations was essential in preventing unnecessary complexity and ‘bloat’ for the eventual character sheet design.
 
With that in mind, we set about developing a list that was broad enough to cover most of the things a player may want to do yet easy to manage in the long run as a character develops. We also wanted to fit that within the bounds of our maths-light concept too…

Rank amateurs!

Of course, having a skill isn’t enough, we want to be able to measure the character’s proficiency with that skill without allowing it to get beyond the bounds of sense. A character with hardly any technical ability shouldn’t be an expert with computers after all!
 
So we introduced a cap on the maximum ranks that can be put into a skill that is tied to that skill’s primary ability, this allows the experts to maintain that superiority but still allows for the less competent to develop their skills to still prove useful for simpler tasks. At no point in a game do we want a player to feel like a burden but everyone should also have their time to shine too… it’s a difficult balance to achieve but so far things are shaping up nicely and definitely something we’ll cover in a future DevBlog entry.
 
Rather than list all of the skills in a super-fun list, we’ve picked out a couple to talk about to give an indication of the flavour we’ve chosen:
  • Knowledge: A broad skill that sits under the Mental ability, this represents the general knowledge of a character and covers a wide variety of subjects. Someone with a high mental ability and lots of ranks in Knowledge would be a must-have for any quiz team.
  • Athleticism: Part of the Physical attribute, this skills covers all of those tasks that rely on core strength and defines a character as physically imposing.
  • Languages: Another broad member of the Mental ability skillset, rather than impose a multiple language scenario this skill covers the overall ‘feel’ for languages that a character may have.
  • Equipment Use: Using a toaster isn’t the same as using a kettle but having skills for each piece of equipment would get old really quick. This Technical ability skill broadly encapsulates a character’s ability to use any of the specialised kit they may choose to use in an investigation.

Another interesting concept we are planning to introduce is the option to be able to change the core ability that a skill is tied to. This could be as a result of a specific character build or as part of a Talent1. The overall aim is to provide a way to create truly unique and believable characters without forcing a player’s hand too much.

Not wanting to spoil it any more than we have to at this point although we’ll absolutely look at showing off some sample builds sometime in the future, especially as these rules and options get closer to completion.

Until next time.

 


1 Coming soon to a DevBlog near you…

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