Knowledges

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blusponge
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Knowledges

#1 Postby blusponge » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:18 pm

Has anyone put together a good sample listing of Knowledge skill categories? It's never been an issue of mine, but one of my players was initially put off by the perceived "open-endedness" of the concept.

The initial problem I can see is Knowledge skills would vary from setting to setting, and then there is always the issue of what counts as common knowledge.

To get started, I broke out my old Dangerous Journeys book and started making a list. Here's what I have so far. If you are interested in such a thing, please feel free to add to it or take objection to an included category. The idea isn't to be exhaustive, but to put together a good list of samples that cover a wide number of settings.

Knowledge Skill Categories
Agriculture (Farming, horticulture)
Animal Husbandry
Engineering
Battle (military engineering, military science, tactics)
Botany
Biography/Genealogy
Chemistry
Arcane or Occult (Demonology, Astrology, Metaphysics)
Natural Sciences
Economics (Finance, Investing)
Geography
Mineralogy
History (broken into regions? eras?)
Law
Linguistics
Literature
Government (Political science, public administration)
Rarities (Antiquities, Art, Appraisal)
Sociology/Culture
Toxicology
Zoology
Seamanship (Navigation, covered by boating?)
Religion
Philosophy
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#2 Postby Highwayman429 » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:37 pm

Thank you for the list Blu. I was just putting a Knowledge list together for my game when I thought "Perhaps those geniuses on the SW forums have already done this?" Viola! Now, if you could upload tomorrow's lottery numbers.... :cool:

While we're on the subject, would other GMs care to chime in as to how they use Knowledge skills in SW. Do you make the players buy dice (ala d4, d6, d8, etc.) or do you simply make it a Smarts check with a subject bonus (typically +2)?
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#3 Postby ogbendog » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:55 pm

I believe one of the game designers suggested that you should only have a PC with a knowledge skill if it's either a prereq for an edge, or if the skill will be rolled at least once every other session.

If not, then lump them into Common Knowledge. CK covers what someone of your race/social class/background/progression would know. So if you are playing a ranger, Ck includes knownedge of animals and such.
A small town mayor in the old west, local history, politics, etc.
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Re: Knowledges

#4 Postby Wiggy » Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:42 pm

BluSponge wrote:The initial problem I can see is Knowledge skills would vary from setting to setting, and then there is always the issue of what counts as common knowledge.


In Hellfrost we made certain skills both Common Knowledge and Knowledge skills. For example, area lore, heraldry, folklore, and history of your native land are Common Knowledge rolls -- you know the people and stories and don't need a skill. Similarly, clerics use CK for their own religion as well. Taking an actual Knowledge skill represents a wider knowledge.
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Torog
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Knowledge skills or a whole lot of ologies

#5 Postby Torog » Thu Aug 27, 2009 2:43 pm

Here's a list I threw together this morning. I'm still new to the game and I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

It could be construed as being a little specific or exhaustive, but this is more for players that may need a shove in the right direction. Also clearly you could narrow things down a bit by lumping some "specialities" into one heading. An example being neurology, oncology,etc etc all falling under Medicine.

A consideration is to allow PCs to allow a discount when buying an obscure knowledge vs the blanket skill.

Knowledge Skills...so far

Anatomy
Anthropology
Archaeology
Astronomy
Astrology
Astrophysics
Bioengineering
Biology
Biomechanics
Botany
Brewing
Carpentry
Cartography
Chemistry
Criminology
Demonology
Electronics
Engineering (genetic,electrical,mechanical,etc)
Forensics
Fletching
Genetics
Geology
Geomancy
Hacking
Herpotology
Law
Mathematics
Mechanics
Microbology
Medicine
Mythology
Necromancy
Neurology
Obsterics
Oncology
Ornithology
Paleonotology
Psychology
Psychiatry
Robotics
Technomancy
Tinker(ing)
UFOlogy
Vulcanology
Zoology

Suggested "blanket" skills
Arcane Science?
Biology Science
Computer Science
Divinatory Science?
Earth Science
Mechanical Science
Medical Science
Physical Science
Political Science

Cheers

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#6 Postby Clint » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:19 pm

ogbendog wrote:I believe one of the game designers suggested that you should only have a PC with a knowledge skill if it's either a prereq for an edge, or if the skill will be rolled at least once every other session.

If not, then lump them into Common Knowledge.


This is it; pretty much dead on (though it could be said the skill is rolled on average every other session).

If a PC has Knowledge (X), then it needs to have a definite, consistent, and impactful game effect of some kind. It should not be there solely for "background;" that's what Common Knowledge is for.
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#7 Postby Boldfist » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:19 pm

I only use Knowledge skills if they have a game mechanic in the setting. So to me, Knowledge (Law) doesn't do anything mechanically in most settings. So why make a character take it at d8 just so he can know the common laws? If it's in his background he gets a +1 or 2 if not he gets a -1 or 2.

Some specific Knowledge skills I use for my Conan games:

Knowledge (Arcana) - To identify spells as they are being cast or to know what type of enchantment/spell may be in effect on an item.

Knowledge (Battle) - Used in mass battles.

Knowledge (Ancient Language) - characters in my setting get 1/2 Smarts in languages. However, the "ancient" languages are no longer spoken (Atlantean, Lemurian ect) so you must take a Knowledge (Ancient Language) skill in order to read and write it. There is no spoke component to the Ancient languages. It takes a successful Knowledge (Ancient Language) roll and d4 days to translate a scroll, d4 weeks for a book.
Norm "No Relation" Hensley

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#8 Postby blusponge » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:57 pm

Clint wrote:If a PC has Knowledge (X), then it needs to have a definite, consistent, and impactful game effect of some kind. It should not be there solely for "background;" that's what Common Knowledge is for.


See, and this is part of the reason I started this thread.

I think Knowledge skill and I immediately think sciences, medicine, law, etc. I don't necessarily think of them in terms of game effect. So that's kind of what I'm proposing we do here: put together a sort of starter list of knowledges that can be applied over a broad number of settings with tips as to the game effects for GMs and players alike.

After Wiggy's post, I pulled open my Hellfrost PDF to take a look at what he had done. He basically offers up the following knowledge fields:
Alchemy
Arcana
Area (regional history and customs)
Battle
Craft
Folklore
Heraldry
History
Law
Monsters
Religion
Riddles
Siege Artillery

Now this is a great list for Fantasy. Each field is followed by a description of in-game coverage.

Does Botany deserve to be a knowledge skill? I dunno. The purist in me says yes, and I could see that coming in very hand in a Lost World-esque setting. In a modern horror or fantasy setting? Not so much.

Torog's list looks like he took mine and raised me by one HERO and a GURPS. ;)

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#9 Postby Harboe » Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:06 pm

I think the key is to identify which (and how many) Knowledge skills you'll need.

In Star Trek, a knowledge (Medicine) would probably cover... (xeno)biology, forensics, chemistry (to a certain level), knowledge of various diseases, allergies and the appropriate remedies based on (xeno)biology.

In "Hospital from HELL!!" - a ripped-off "E.R." campaign - Knowledge (Medicine) isn't appropriate. But since a lot of skills would be irrelevant (Shooting, Fighting, Piloting, Boating, Survival, Tracking etc.) that evens out. Smarts becomes more valuable, obviously, but then doctors are supposed to be smart anyway.
Perhaps we'd have:
Knowledge (Diagnosis)
Knowledge (Surgery)
Knowledge (Fractures)
etc. etc.

In most campaigns, I tell players that they can pick as broad or as specialized Knowledge skill as they want. If a person has Knowledge (Business) he'll roll that for his stock investments.
If another player has Knowledge (Stock-trading) he'll roll as well... with a +2.
Now, since they're buying shares in Microsoft, a third player joins in with his Knowledge (Stocktrading: IT) for a +4.
When a new player wants to bring in a character with Knowledge (Microsoft stocks), I'll ask him if buying the (Filthy) Rich Edge isn't what he was looking for...
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#10 Postby Wiggy » Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:37 pm

BluSponge wrote:Does Botany deserve to be a knowledge skill? I dunno. The purist in me says yes, and I could see that coming in very hand in a Lost World-esque setting. In a modern horror or fantasy setting? Not so much.


Botany could be useful in a Lost World game. "Er, you might want to stick your fingers down your throat now you've eaten the red-leaded plant." However, one could argue Survival might cover that eventuality.
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#11 Postby Chezzo » Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:45 pm

Somebody needs to add the Weird War II knowledges, namely:

Weird War II knowledges

Artillery
Marine Systems
Aircraft Systems
Bombardier
Navigation
Torpedo
Radar
Sonar
Gunnery
Demolitions

I might be missing a few, as I just went through the MOS packages on page 8.

These Knowleges are hugely important to the Weird War II rules!

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#12 Postby ogbendog » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:09 pm

I think if you include a list of suggested knowledge skills, you should include what ther are used for, both when to roll them and what edges they are prereqs for.

In the core game, Knowledge Arcana is a prereq for Wizard and Soul burn, as I recall.
knowledge battle is used in mass combat

etc.
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