Comprehensive Knowledges

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Aramus Daimorgul
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Comprehensive Knowledges

#1 Postby Aramus Daimorgul » Sat Oct 04, 2008 1:40 am

I'd like to offer these to the players in a comprehensive way, one where the level of how specialized the skills are is taken into consideration. Players won't walk away with Know: All, Know: Underwater Basketweaving or worse something that should simply be covered by common knowledge. Everything will be appropriate and not step on the toes of the other non-knowledge skills. One last thing to consider is not every skill will be available in every setting.

List of possible knowledge skills from the book:
Occult
Science
History
Archaeology
Biology
An Area
Battle
Computers
Electronics
Journalism
Language
Law
Medicine (but heal for treatment)
Tactics

Here are the broad groups of knowledge types that I can see more specialized skills coming off of:
History (Law, Occult, Journalism)
Area (Nation, city, region, planet)
Science (Biology, Archaelogy, Medicine)
Technology (Computers, Electronics)
Language (individual language)
Command (Battle, Tactics)

So, the question is what am I missing in those broad groups and furthermore, what additional specialties should be added?
Last edited by Aramus Daimorgul on Sat Oct 04, 2008 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#2 Postby DerFinsterling » Sat Oct 04, 2008 1:57 am

When I want to encourage players to take Knowledge skills, I give them a few examples that are appropriate for a setting, but don't provide them with a list.
In my experience, the longer a list the more likely a player is to just choose from it and I'd rather have him come up with a fitting Knowledge skill himself. ;-)

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#3 Postby jpk » Sat Oct 04, 2008 10:04 am

I'm with DerFinsterling. I've found that the players I've got tend to be just find thinking up a Knowledge if they want one. If they don't, it really doesn't matter what I suggest. They can be contrary.

Also, I'm considering doing something a little Indiana Jonesy where the characters will all be professors at a small college. As a setting rule, everyone will start the game with d12+1 in a generally-considered-useless-or-esoteric Knowledge, no matter what their Smarts are. That'll allow for the otherwise-witless professor of ancient Etruscan soil science...

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#4 Postby Aramus Daimorgul » Sat Oct 04, 2008 12:08 pm

I see what you guys are saying - don't worry about the specialization, however, I think this possibly makes identifying the root skills very important.

Broad (specializations)
History (Law, Occult, Journalism, An Area, Legends & Lore)
Science (Biology, Archaeology, Medicine, Physics)
Technology (Computers, Electronics, Robotics, Mechanical Repair, Engineering, Security Systems)
Language (Individual Language)
Battle (Command, Tactics, War History)
Finery (Forgery, Art, Writing, Jewelery, Music)
Profession (Business, Bureaucracy, Politics, Merchant)

One related note: what type of bonus should the specialization give? +1? So, as an example an archaeologist wants to uncover some bones, he would get +1 but if he wanted to biological genetic testing he would not get the bonus. Another way to handle this would be to give them an untrained penalty in everything except their specialty within the group. If the archaeologist was 1d10 and they wanted to do genetic testing they would be 1d10-2. Which is better?
Last edited by Aramus Daimorgul on Sun Oct 05, 2008 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#5 Postby Aramus Daimorgul » Sat Oct 04, 2008 12:30 pm

This also begs the question what if the archaeologist wants to also have genetics as a specialty? Does he have to buy Science: genetics when he already has Science: archaeology?

Possibly, rather than giving a die increase you can just gain another specialty with an advancement, this would make sense with how to deal with gaining new languages too.
Alter page 37 text to read:
Increase two skills that are lower than their linked attribute by one die type, you may replace one or both of those increases with gaining a knowledge specialization instead.
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#6 Postby jpk » Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:21 pm

For most folks, really, this sort of thing is likely covered by their backgrounds in the general Common Knowledge bucket. If your character wants to spend a lot of time increasing the breadth of their knowledge, just add it to what their Common Knowledge covers. Unless you're going to require they use that skill at least every other game or so or the skill is a necessary prerequisite for something, just hand-wave it. That's why I'm giving away that one skill for free: it's not really that useful and it won't really be necessary...

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#7 Postby Jordan Peacock » Sat Oct 04, 2008 5:30 pm

jpk wrote:For most folks, really, this sort of thing is likely covered by their backgrounds in the general Common Knowledge bucket.


I agree here, pretty much. As it is, skill points spread pretty thinly. Whenever entering a new campaign (and players are writing new characters), I've taken to policing them when it comes to writing down Knowledge areas. Sometimes I may establish a few Knowledge skills that I know are likely to be used in this campaign, and which therefore ought to be purchased as such.

E.g., for a sci-fi campaign in which the majority of the PCs had varying levels of computer-related backgrounds, I established "Kn (Computers)" and "Kn (Security Systems)" as skills I knew that more than just one player might be interested in. ("Security Systems" was to cover electronic "locks" and such. I tried using Lockpicking for that at first, but it significantly penalized the "computer hacker geek" who had high Smarts and pitiful Agility.)

I've been in some cases telling players (who purchase various Knowledge skills) not to bother with it: I consider it as falling under that character's "Common Knowledge." However, perhaps I ought to just formalize it, in order to make sure I do it fairly. That is, declare that everyone gets a free "professional" Knowledge Area equal to his Smarts, relating to his or her chosen profession (or equivalent).

So, if your character is an "archaeologist," then you can make Knowledge rolls pertaining to archaeology, as a Common Knowledge check. I suppose the place where I'd run into trouble would be with characters with "hybrid" backgrounds or who can't be pinned down into a particular profession other than "adventurer." (E.g., in my pulp campaign I'm starting up, I have a character who's a retired boxer who has become a detective. His profession is "detective," but if it ever came up, I'd imagine that he'd know something about boxing as well, without having to purchase a skill for it. Fortunately for me, it's not likely to become an issue in my campaign.)
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#8 Postby skylion » Sat Oct 04, 2008 5:50 pm

I typically keep to the broad spectrum that is the whole enchilada.

Is the player going to use this skill at least once every other game. If the answer is no, then it should find a way to default under Common Knowledge for whatever archetype they most conform too.

It is my old conundrum. In a Pulp Action game, would Indiana Jones need Knowledge Archaeology? If most of the game is ferreting out spies, or going against gangsters, or beating sky pirates without an ancient ruin anywhere, then no. If we then head off too the deep jungles of Peru. Boom, he has bonuses to his smarts roll.

If the game is intrinsically centered on going to see a new ruin every session, then having Knowledge Arch is going to be handier then that bonus to CK.

So, in my game I look at it as, what does the player need, not what the game needs.
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#9 Postby Sitting Duck » Sun Oct 05, 2008 5:20 am

Jordan Peacock wrote:E.g., for a sci-fi campaign in which the majority of the PCs had varying levels of computer-related backgrounds, I established "Kn (Computers)" and "Kn (Security Systems)" as skills I knew that more than just one player might be interested in. ("Security Systems" was to cover electronic "locks" and such. I tried using Lockpicking for that at first, but it significantly penalized the "computer hacker geek" who had high Smarts and pitiful Agility.)


In settings where most locks are of the electronic variety, it could simply be house-ruled that Lockpicking be a Smarts-linked skill.
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#10 Postby Wendigo1870 » Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:24 am

the problem I have with Knowledge skills is that the more important Knowledge Skills get missed when doing character creation, and later on with advances as well, simply because they're not explicitly mentioned. Some settings have specific Knowledge specialties you normally never take (Example: Sundered Skies; Knowledge (Legends & Lore)). Knowledge (Battle) is also important in most campaigns at some point, but that one too gets overlooked too often.
Agreed, some things can be covered with Common Knowledge (some can argument that Kn:L&L for SS can be covered with C.K. as well), but Kn. Battle seems too specific to me.

And in the end, their in-game use is also important; I wouldn't want to invest my scarce skillpoints in a Kn. Skill I'll never use.

Hence a table and some guidelines as to what knowledge skill is important in what setting would be very useful.
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#11 Postby Aramus Daimorgul » Sun Oct 05, 2008 12:54 pm

Jordan Peacock wrote:That is, declare that everyone gets a free "professional" Knowledge Area equal to his Smarts, relating to his or her chosen profession (or equivalent).

I like it, this is a good way to buff up common knowledge, you get several defined common knowledge areas (all equal to your smarts):
Your Profession
Your Language
Your Area

Wendigo1870 wrote:Hence a table and some guidelines as to what knowledge skill is important in what setting would be very useful.

This is also a good angle, what knowledge skills are available in each setting? Some knowledge skills are not worth their salt in skill points and that can change depending on the setting. Even beyond this I would like to know which skills are universal to most settings. So that players can get the gist of which skills may be called in the game.

This is a list of the broad groups that I have come up with. Are there any more that should be added?
Broad Groups
History
Science
Technology
Language
Battle
Finery
Profession
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#12 Postby Aramus Daimorgul » Fri Oct 17, 2008 11:17 pm

I have been giving this some more thought. A way to approach this is to just run with common knowledge - almost exclusively.

If a character is a wizard from the ice peaks. He would have common knowledge as a wizard and as being from the ice peaks, he would also speak the language of the Ice peaks - Iceish.

So those would be translated into three free knowledge skills all automatically set to the character's Smarts attribute - Knowledge Ice Peaks, Magic, and Iceish. This would be in addition to all of the other regular uses of common knowledge. More explicitly you get an area knowledge, a professional knowledge and a language all set at your smarts.

Then, if a character really wants to have a knowledge outside of their characters realm, they would have to buy it.

This does require a player to define their characters profession when not obvious to gain the correct professional knowledge skill.
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#13 Postby Clint » Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:54 am

Another way of using Common Knowledge for that effect that was suggested some time ago is to categorize it more.

There are three levels of Common Knowledge, ranked by how they modify the Trait roll:
Expert +2 (Native language)
Skilled +0 (Fluent language)
Familiar -2 (Pidgin language)

Characters can choose a number of Expert skills/languages equal to half their Smarts, they get a number of Skilled equal to their Smarts, and a number of Familiar equal to Smarts x 2 (or 1.5).

Knowing a language at Native never requires a roll to understand, a Fluent language only requires a Smarts roll under stress (like combat), while a Pidgin language requires a roll for any discussion.
Last edited by Clint on Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#14 Postby Aramus Daimorgul » Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:38 am

This is very explicit and requires a lot of thought about what your character really knows. A d10 smarts character would require you to explicitly spell out 5 expert, 10 skilled and 20 familiar - 35 skills to figure out is a bit much. I would much rather glaze over the specifics and go with "biology" skill and have that include exactly what the character "could" know by having them make a skill check.

In fact, the individual knowledge skill specializations themselves seem to be more specificity than necessary for SW. Getting a list of broad skills and letting the characters background determine what those skills specializations are.
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#15 Postby Tuesday » Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:00 pm

Clint:

I think you mean "Pidgin", not "Pigeon".

Unless you're speaking to birds, of course.


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