Sub Skills

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The Warden
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Sub Skills

#1 Postby The Warden » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:51 am

Hi

I'm fairly new to the game so I was hoping someone could tell me if it would upset some game balance/mechanics if I broke the following skills up like this:

Fighting
Melee Weapons
Brawling

Shooting
Archery
Crossbows

Stealth
Sneaking
Pick pockets

Thanks all :)

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#2 Postby shadd4d » Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:23 pm

If you do that, you've made more skills, so people are less likely to diversify with skills. Another thing to consider is how the fighting-based combat edges work. Will some not work or do you count as unskilled in using a weapon when you're fighting skill is brawling?

The other thing to consider is that as written, the SW skills are (for the most part, excepting climbing, swimming and guts) meant to be fairly broad skills, with shooting, for instance, covering from slingshots to tank guns.

"Sub-skills" work in games with a lot of minutae, for instance like Shadowrun, 2nd and 3rd editions of L5R, CoC, GURPS Ars Magica and others where the details and granularity are what you're going for in the game. They are less useful in games like SW, Hollow Earth Expedition where you're looking for a speed of gameplay rather than fine granularity.

In closing, I would pose to you the following questions: 1) why do you want to have sub-skills, 2) what is your intent with having them, 3) is your reason for having them due to your experience with other games or is it because it fits your vision of your setting? I guess I'm left wondering what is behind your sub-skills concept and what you want to do with it and why.
Don

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Fear is when you worry about what might be.
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#3 Postby Snate56 » Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:33 pm

No, it won't break up game balance or the mechanics, but the game was designed to be Fast, Furious, and Fun! So certain common skills were rolled into one to speed things up and keep the game simple.
Another side effect is that Players only have a small number of points to spend on skills, and by splitting them up, it essentially penalizes them.

Now as you'll read in the postings on this board, there are all kinds of house rules and addons floating around and you'll soon find that if a particular modification doesn't suit you then going back is real simple.

One final word that seems to come up often around here, though, "try it as is first, and after a few games if you feel the need to change something, then do so!" :-D


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#4 Postby The Warden » Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:36 pm

shadd4d wrote:If you do that, you've made more skills, so people are less likely to diversify with skills. Another thing to consider is how the fighting-based combat edges work. Will some not work or do you count as unskilled in using a weapon when you're fighting skill is brawling?

The other thing to consider is that as written, the SW skills are (for the most part, excepting climbing, swimming and guts) meant to be fairly broad skills, with shooting, for instance, covering from slingshots to tank guns.

"Sub-skills" work in games with a lot of minutae, for instance like Shadowrun, 2nd and 3rd editions of L5R, CoC, GURPS Ars Magica and others where the details and granularity are what you're going for in the game. They are less useful in games like SW, Hollow Earth Expedition where you're looking for a speed of gameplay rather than fine granularity.

In closing, I would pose to you the following questions: 1) why do you want to have sub-skills, 2) what is your intent with having them, 3) is your reason for having them due to your experience with other games or is it because it fits your vision of your setting? I guess I'm left wondering what is behind your sub-skills concept and what you want to do with it and why.

Thanks for the advice

I want more skills for more

1] Diversity and more choice, also to give characters more areas of 'growth' so they don't hit a ceiling too soon
2] The intent as I believe is to better define a character
3] It's to do with my experience with other roleplaying games

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#5 Postby shadd4d » Mon Aug 30, 2010 1:07 pm

To start off, I'd say play more SW.

The Warden wrote:1] Diversity and more choice, also to give characters more areas of 'growth' so they don't hit a ceiling too soon


A d12 in a skill is hitting the ceiling? It could be but there are a lot of edges which might add or enhance that skill. Plus it can always (at legendary) go up to d12+2. Besides, SW is the type of game, different from D&D, Shadowrun, L5R or others, where you can start off at a d12 in a skill. You've had to spend more skill points but there's really no problem with starting with a d12 in a skill. Granted, you've got fewer skills but you have one (or 2) really, really good skills. You saying this seems that your experience is from a skill heavy game rather than one with fewer minutae.

The Warden wrote:2] The intent as I believe is to better define a character


To put it extremely bluntly, that's what edges are for.:wink: Edges, more than skills, are what allow for the characters to be defined and customized. This is a real paradigm shift; to paraphrase Clint, if memory serves, while in other games skills are what defines a character, it's the edges in SW. Sure you rolls traits almost exclusively, but it's the edges which really define the character at least mechanically.

The Warden wrote:3] It's to do with my experience with other roleplaying games


But that experience may not be the best guide to the mechanics behind SW; as I noted above, your experience revolves (I'm guessing) around systems whose paradigm is starting out particularly unskilled with maybe a few okay skill levels and trying to raise those skills higher and higher. Feats/edges/advantages are limited and chosen during character creation and never really acknowledged during the game with the exception of feats.

In contrast, with SW you can start extremely skilled in one skill with lots of fairly unskilled skills and expect to get advantages/feats pretty regularly. Progress is more in picking up new advantages rather than increasing your base skills. That's the difference and why breaking things up into sub-skills reflects a system which is skill based as opposed to the one in SW where the paradigm is based on the edges chosen.

I don't mean to slam your experience, and I do not want this post to come across as demeaning your experience, but in my opinion your "sub-skill" idea is partially undoing the FFF and edge-based paradigm for really no mechanical payoff. That's what it looks like to me mechanically, and why I wouldn't go with sub-skills. It also looks like your group focuses on raising skills rather than picking up new edges, which is a real contrast to other groups, who seem to pick up a lot of edges and maybe rarely raise skills, because the edges are more potent or allow for better choices in the use of skills.
Don



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Fear is when you worry about what might be.

Horror is when you are certain." Dannyboy01

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#6 Postby Dylan S » Mon Aug 30, 2010 1:22 pm

I'm just going to throw my agreement weight behind what Shadd said: diversity and definition of characters in this game is handled by edges. You'll be amazed at how differently two warriors with identical skills can behave in combat, based upon the edges they've chosen. Amazed, I say! Astounded, then, consequently, dumbfounded!

Seriously, though. Your two-daggered assassin and your greatsword orc may both have d8 or d10 Fighting at creation, but the assassin will have taken, say, Two-Fisted, Ambidextrous, and Close-Fighting edges, while the Orc will have taken Sweep, Brawny, and maybe Berserk. The assassin's base Agility will probably be higher (for stronger Parry), while the Orc may be stronger (to carry a heavier weapon). So, even though the two players are rolling the same attack die, their combat will look and feel very different!

Edit: In medieval settings, ranged fighters unfortunately don't have as many edges available to diversify themselves. The solution to this is to do other things as well. For example, I once played a glorious knight who would take a shot with his crossbow, then charge his warhorse into battle with his lance down. He was also a commander of NPC mercenaries, so there were plenty of options for me to choose during combat. That's a big part of the fun of SW: characters aren't put into boxes nearly as strictly as in other systems.

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#7 Postby GranFalloon » Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:12 pm

I always sort of pictures Skills and Edges sorta representing Training and Real Experience, respectively.

For example, someone who excels in a fencing academy or martial arts school and reaches the top ranks might have a d10 or d12 in Fighting, but probably only one edge. It's when they have to start fighting for their lives against real enemies that they start getting edges.

This is all fluff, but it could be way to represent different types of characters in your game. The young nobleman who is an expert swordsman when training in his courtyard with his well-paid teacher would have perfect form and pacing, and would make a formidable opponent, even though he has never had to draw blood. He might have d12 Fighting.
His father's man-at-arms, who campaigned against the mountain orcs and personally slew their chieftain, may only have a d8 in fighting, but a healthy handful of edges to represent his ferocity, despite his lack of formal skill.

Don't enforce this idea on your players, of course, but it is a different way to look at it. I have found that most characters stop advancing their prime skills at d10, because taking edges becomes a more efficient way to do the awesome things you want.

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#8 Postby Greg K » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:35 am

I have done something similar for Stealth

Stealth--> Lock Picking, Sleight of Hand (includes picking pockets), Stealth (hide and move silent)

I have also been tempted to do something similar for Fighting (Melee Weapons and Unarmed) and Shooting except that I pull Archery out as its own skill and leave crossbows as part of shooting.

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#9 Postby Greg K » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:39 am

shadd4d wrote:
"Sub-skills" work in games with a lot of minutae, for instance like Shadowrun, 2nd and 3rd editions of L5R, CoC, GURPS Ars Magica and others where the details and granularity are what you're going for in the game. They are less useful in games like SW, Hollow Earth Expedition where you're looking for a speed of gameplay rather than fine granularity.


I, personally, don't think a few extra skills as ,mentioned will take anything away from the speed of game play. I don't even think it will make a noteable difference in the speed of character generation given how skills are purchased in SW.

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#10 Postby 77IM » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:20 pm

If you want sub-skills I'd make them optional, at half the price of a full skill.

This way you can whip up characters quickly, but still get the additional detail when you want it (and not other times).

"Junkyard Thug" = Fighting d6 because as GM you don't want to worry about weapons vs. brawling for these punks.
"My Warrior PC" = Fighting d8 because I want to be able to kick butt both with and without weapons.
"Your Monk PC" = Fighting (Brawling d10, Weapons d6) because he's a monk and favors unarmed combat.
"Master Swordsman Big Boss" = Fighting (Brawling d6, Weapons d12) because that way the PCs need to use some strategy (disarm!) to defeat him.
(etc.)

The point is, if you force people to consider dozens of little skills when creating a character, it just gets annoying. But if you make the sub-skills optional you kind of get "the best of both worlds" -- you can specify the detail if you want it, or gloss over it when you don't care or are in a hurry.

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#11 Postby Lord Inar » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:31 pm

A way to get subskills is to provide a negative modifier to a portion of the skill which can be overcome by an edge.

Examples:
Archery is (very) difficult, so all rolls with a bow are at -2 to the shooting skill
Edge: Trained Archer Req: Shooting d6. You no longer take a -2 to Shooting when using a bow.

Pickpocket might work the exact same way.

For brawling, I'd leave it under Melee, or use some the edges from here for flavor, especially Unarmed Warrior: http://www.realityblurs.com/downloads/mma%20rev.pdf

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#12 Postby The Warden » Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:45 pm

All good ideas

I'm thinking of including the extra 3 skills and handing out an extra point or two for skills, say 16 or 17

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#13 Postby Greg K » Tue Aug 31, 2010 2:48 pm

77IM wrote:The point is, if you force people to consider dozens of little skills when creating a character, it just gets annoying. But if you make the sub-skills optional you kind of get "the best of both worlds" -- you can specify the detail if you want it, or gloss over it when you don't care or are in a hurry.
-- 77IM


Well, for myself, the stealth breakdown is a mandatory houserule. I am still debating about Fighting and Shooting.

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#14 Postby Clint » Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:02 pm

Problem I see is that the skill split simply isn't even.

Why take brawling when you can pick up a makeshift club and use Melee Weapon at full die type?
Why take crossbow when you will be using a bow 99% of the time in game (or vice versa)?
Why take Pick Pocket if almost all Stealth rolls are Sneaking?

Not only that, but there is the extended effect to Edges. What constitutes meeting a Requirement for an Edge with a split Skill? Does it take both Skills which doubles that requirement or become two Edges with each as a separate requirement, increasing the cost of Edges as well as the Skills.

Just saying, it's going to be complicated than simply adding skills to the list.

And as others said, Savage Worlds isn't so much about differentiating characters based on their limitations, but on what they excel at.

If a character wants to excel at melee weapons or brawling, then he picks up an Edge that enhances that ability (Trademark Weapon or perhaps one of the unarmed warrior Edges). If the player wants their character to be an exceptional pickpocket, then they may have Stealth at a d8, but a Nimble Fingers Edge that grants a +2 for sleight of hand and picking pockets. If they want to be better with a bow or crossbow, then pick up an Edge like Double Shot or Rapid Reload to represent the superior ability with that particular weapon.

Anyway, that's the way the system is designed to work and provide differentiation. It's certainly possible to take a different tack, but just be aware of the potential in-game and secondary effects that may occur.
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#15 Postby The Warden » Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:29 pm

Clint wrote:And as others said, Savage Worlds isn't so much about differentiating characters based on their limitations, but on what they excel at.

If a character wants to excel at melee weapons or brawling, then he picks up an Edge that enhances that ability (Trademark Weapon or perhaps one of the unarmed warrior Edges). If the player wants their character to be an exceptional pickpocket, then they may have Stealth at a d8, but a Nimble Fingers Edge that grants a +2 for sleight of hand and picking pockets. If they want to be better with a bow or crossbow, then pick up an Edge like Double Shot or Rapid Reload to represent the superior ability with that particular weapon.

I see what you're saying. An edge is a way of both specialising and thus making 2 characters different.

Is it easy to create edges if you can't find the right one?

Is there, for example, 'Marksman'?

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#16 Postby Clint » Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:50 pm

The Warden wrote:I see what you're saying. An edge is a way of both specialising and thus making 2 characters different.

Is it easy to create edges if you can't find the right one?

Is there, for example, 'Marksman'?


Marksman is actually in the core rulebook (allowing a character to Aim if he doesn't move), but yeah, making an Edge shouldn't be a chore. Look at the Professional Edges for examples of Edges that help differentiate characters or check out some of the freebies for examples as well.

For instance, you can download the Wizards & Warriors freebie from the PEG site (http://www.peginc.com/downloads.html), and get an idea of how the Racial Edges in there allow character to specialize and be different. Or pick up the Modern Martial Arts freebie at Reality Blurs (http://realityblurs.com/wordpress/?page_id=981)for some expanded ideas for Combat Edges, including an Unarmed Warrior option.

Most Setting Books are going to provide additional options like that already, but as long as you kind of stick to some basic guidelines (covered in the GM section of the book), it's not hard to come up with your own Edge... or you can cheat and ask on the forum and typically find something useful without any work at all. ;)
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#17 Postby The Warden » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:21 pm

I'm thinking bright future for my Savage players!

Incidentally, is there a combat example showing how Shaken, Bennies, Spirit(?) rolls operate?

Here's a good one (courtesy of GreenTounge on rpg.net): The Bandits

But I was hoping for another example to really get to grips with it.

Thanks all by the way

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#18 Postby CAM » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:06 pm

Warden

I have used a homebrew rule regarding weapon specialities for my fantasy setting. I took the advice from others in this forum a year or two ago, and tweaked some Edges rather than make 'sub-skills', and I was pretty happy with the outcome.

Basically I made it that the Fighting skill covers unarmed fighting, and all weapons are considered Improvised Weapons (Fighting -2).

Characters receive an additional free Edge during character creation called "Weapon Familarity" which allows a character to choose a broad group of weapons (in keeping with their cultural background) to be used at their usual Fighting skill. The melee groups I used were Blades, Bludgeons, Axes, and Polearms.

If choosing to further specialise, I had the Edge "Weapon Speciality" which focused on a particular weapon type and characters were able to use Fighting +1 with a weapon of this category. I required that the weapon chosen had to be from the weapon group that the character had the "Weapon Familarity" Edge with. For example, if a character had 'Weapon Familarity (Blades)', then they could later advance to have "Weapon Speciality (Broadswords)". Only the warrior types tended to choose this Edge, which was in keeping with the setting. Basically this is just the 'Trademark Weapon' Edge tweaked to cover a weapon type rather than an individual weapon. I also allowed for further 'Trademark Weapon" Edges (Fighting +2) which allowed for further specialisation with an individual weapn.

This system has worked well for me, and it's in keeping with the notion of adding Edges rather than adding new Skills. I don't know how it would play out at a gaming convention, I suspect that the flaws in it would be pointed out, but it certainly worked okay in my fantasy campaign and the players liked it.

I wouldn't try to replicate it in many other settings, I think the core rules work well for most pulp style settings, but for some reason I felt this was the way to go for a fantasy setting - it's obiviously a legacy from years of gaming in other systems, but it hit the spot with my troupe.

Have fun

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#19 Postby Greg K » Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:12 pm

Clint wrote:Why take Pick Pocket if almost all Stealth rolls are Sneaking?


1. Because it makes sense for the character. Some characters are really good at Pickpockets/Sleight of hand and not at sneaking and some characters might be very good at sneaking and not know sleight of hand.

2. If the character has pickpockets, the GM should provide situations for the skill to come into play and be important.

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#20 Postby Snate56 » Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:15 am

Ah, don't forget about Common Knowledge.
Common Knowledge isn't just the basic world information everyone knows, it also covers the things your character would normally know from his experience or pastime.
For instance; a farmer knows how to grow crops, soil type and quality, if he has goats, chickens or cows he knows a bit of animal husbandry. He would know more about buying a good horse than, say, a townsperson.
A street urchin might know how to pick pockets, where to hide, which baker doesn't pay attention, whereas a monk may have Stealth because he is naturally quiet and contemplative, but he would know little of picking pockets.
I allow +2 bonus to rolls within the character's field.


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