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Eliminating the Ride skill

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  • Eliminating the Ride skill

    I read once that a skill shouldn't be a skill if it isn't used at least every other session. While I wouldn't go that far I am fan of what Adventure edition has done with eliminating superfluous or limited skills, such as Guts, Swimming or Throwing as well as all the Knowledge skills that came before, but why stop there?

    I recently discovered that Ride is a rather limited skill with few applications:
    1) To act as a tax on characters wanting to do mounted combat.
    2) To roll for staying on the mount in combat.
    3) Riding bicycles.

    There could be more to it that I missed but I feel like most of these are too limited for a skill. Need to heal your mount? Healing skill exists. Need to make it do what you want through rapport or discipline? There are social skills that can apply to those. Want to shoot from a horse? Riding skill doesn't even help you there, you still need the Steady Hands Edge. Other than that the mount itself is the main contributor with its own skills and attributes unlike a motor vehicle which completely complies with its driver.

    So for fun I want to play with the idea of eliminating the Ride skill.
    2) and 3) can be done with Athletics rolls. Sure, it makes the already very useful Athletics even better but on the other hand those are very specific cases which usually don't come up often in too many games.

    When it comes to 1) I understand the logic of a poor rider being a poor mounted combatant. I'm toying with the idea of making it an Edge instead of having a whole dedicated Ride skill with few uses.

    Optional Rule:
    Everyday normal riding does not require any rolls, such as riding on a horse or other animal from point A to point B during normal circumstances, or everyday maintenance of such animals. If a character is wanting to do far more hazardous maneuvers such as participating in chases, fighting from horseback or doing dangerous jumps they will suffer a -2 penalty to all related skills due to their lack of experience, guts, body control and command over their mount. This includes Athletics rolls to stay mounted or social skills to make your animal do what you wish.

    Professional Edge: Rider
    Requirements: Novice, Agility d8, Spirit d6, Athletics d6
    Your character has the training, mental fortitude and guts to ride effectively through storm and rain, obstacles, chases or even raging combat.
    When being mounted you may ignore the -2 penalties that a character normally suffers when using their mount in hazardous situations, chases and mounted combat as well as staying on the animal when it takes damage. In addition you have +1 to Healing rolls to take care of the animal, Common Knowledge rolls to know details about riding as well as to social rolls to calm it, command it, bond with it or coerce it to do what you want.

    This Edge does not eliminate penalties to shoot from a galloping animal, the Steady Hands Edge is needed for that.

    What do you think? Constructive criticism? Suggestions?

  • #2
    eliminating ... all the Knowledge skills

    SWADE didn't, they just renamed them.
    Everyday normal riding does not require any rolls, such as riding on a horse or other animal from point A to point B during normal circumstances,
    That would be the standard rule.

    The logical endpoint of this is that the other Knowledge skill should also be done away with. Battle? Only useful if there is a battle scenario in the game, so just replace it with social skills and an Edge. Academics? Figure it out or...Smarts roll(?). Same for Science. And then you have other vehicle skills. Boating, when does that come up? Replace that with Driving and an Edge, too?

    Riding, et al., are Skills that you build a character around. It's a thing you do and make an effort to inject into the game. If you want to play someone skilled in riding (or mounted combat, more specifically) as your schtick, then you devote resources to that. Same with Boating or Battle or whatever. If these are skills that should be common to the milieu, the GM should consider adding them to the Common Skills (Boating ins a pirate game, for example.) If not, Is it really worth an Edge? Is a single Edge a satisfying means to articulate the special skill?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Aristarkos View Post
      What do you think? Constructive criticism? Suggestions?
      I think Riding is a niche skill, like Driving, Piloting, Boating, Battle, Hacking, Gambling, Academics, etc. If a campaign is unlikely to feature riding animals - especially in combat - then players should be discouraged from investing in Riding.
      If riding animals is a common aspect of the setting then it needs to be treated like Driving in a modern setting - nearly everyone can do it but only trained people can do it in tense situations.
      The benefits of Riding are being able to stay on your mount in stressful circumstances, control a mount in unusual ways, and a host of secondary knowledge related to mounts, accessories, and animal quality.

      I am surprised that you've expanded Persuasion to work on non-verbal animals. That's ... a strange choice that makes a strong skill remarkably stronger.

      Rider has oddly high requirements for "I've had training equivalent to mounted combat training".

      A recurring setting edge for mount-centric setting allows riders to use Riding to Soak Wounds to their mounts.
      I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
        A recurring setting edge for mount-centric setting allows riders to use Riding to Soak Wounds to their mounts.
        Do you happen to recall which settings include this Edge? I'd be interested in reading it to see whether it's worth stealing for my game.
        “Self-discipline isn't everything; look at Pol Pot.”
        —Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

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        • #5
          Born in the Saddle, most recently in DL:WW.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
            SWADE didn't, they just renamed them.
            Not really. Deluxe edition had tons of bewildering knowledge skills such as Knowledge: Chemistry and Knowledge: Science, Knowledge: Algeria and so on. It was quite messy in my opinion. I wholeheartedly welcomed what Swade did and group them together. If players still want the granularity then they have the Skill Specialization rule.


            Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
            The logical endpoint of this is that the other Knowledge skill should also be done away with. Battle? Only useful if there is a battle scenario in the game, so just replace it with social skills and an Edge. Academics? Figure it out or...Smarts roll(?). Same for Science.
            No, the logical endpoint of this would be to do away with all rules entirely and just do freeform storytelling. Then again, I find “logical endpoint” arguments uninteresting and irrelevant, so I don’t use them myself.

            If I was of the opinion that the Knowledge skills and Battle were equally uninteresting as Ride then I would make threads about them too, but I don’t. You mentioned Battle. Battle shines in a battle situation where it can be very dynamic and useful even before investing in Leadership Edges. It can even be used a lot outside of a combat or mass battle, such as spotting ambushes, predicting what the enemy will do next, finding a good weak point to sneak into a fortress etc. Ride, meanwhile, remains lacklustre even within a scene of mounted combat. It makes you not suck at riding in battle and staying on the horse. What more is there to it that doesn't require non-core Edges?

            Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
            And then you have other vehicle skills. Boating, when does that come up? Replace that with Driving and an Edge, too?
            Yes, I do that very often and the Ace Edge already exists so no need to design a new one. Sometimes I have the occasional games where it is more interesting to have the skills separate though, such as games that heavily feature wilderness exploration, or military games.


            Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
            Riding, et al., are Skills that you build a character around. It's a thing you do and make an effort to inject into the game. If you want to play someone skilled in riding (or mounted combat, more specifically) as your schtick, then you devote resources to that. Same with Boating or Battle or whatever. If these are skills that should be common to the milieu, the GM should consider adding them to the Common Skills (Boating ins a pirate game, for example.) If not, Is it really worth an Edge? Is a single Edge a satisfying means to articulate the special skill?
            Yes, and investing in an Edge does not count as devoting resources?

            My problem with Ride isn’t so much that it doesn’t come up often. My problem is that even in games with a lot of riding it is still a limited and uninteresting skill that basically exists to tax players. So I can either excise it or make it more interesting. The first one is easier.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post

              I think Riding is a niche skill, like Driving, Piloting, Boating, Battle, Hacking, Gambling, Academics, etc. If a campaign is unlikely to feature riding animals - especially in combat - then players should be discouraged from investing in Riding. If riding animals is a common aspect of the setting then it needs to be treated like Driving in a modern setting - nearly everyone can do it but only trained people can do it in tense situations. The benefits of Riding are being able to stay on your mount in stressful circumstances, control a mount in unusual ways, and a host of secondary knowledge related to mounts, accessories, and animal quality.
              Yes, of course. My problem is when the skill is so limited that even within its own domain it is pretty lacklustre. One way could be to broaden it by naming it Animal Handling or something, but even so it feels quite limited.

              Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
              I am surprised that you've expanded Persuasion to work on non-verbal animals. That's ... a strange choice that makes a strong skill remarkably stronger.
              You are right, the wording is weird. Maybe change it to state that you have narrative permission to use social skills on animals? I wasn't sure how to handle the important social aspects of animal handling, a domain that the original Ride skill also lacks if you go by RAW.

              Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
              Rider has oddly high requirements for "I've had training equivalent to mounted combat training".
              Good point. I shall lower the Agility requirement do a d6.

              Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
              A recurring setting edge for mount-centric setting allows riders to use Riding to Soak Wounds to their mounts.
              Interesting, thank you for sharing!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
                Born in the Saddle, most recently in DL:WW.
                Thanks. I checked out Deadlands: The Weird West, and its Born in the Saddle Edge gives a free reroll on Riding checks, as well as a bonus to the mount's Pace and a die-step increase for its running die; it doesn't let you roll Riding to Soak Wounds for your mount.

                The only setting book I could find this Edge in was the Beasts & Barbarians Steel Edition Player's Guide, which just modifies the Ace Edge to apply to mounts (and Riding skill) as well as vehicles. I do like this idea, and will be stealing it. I appreciate the pointers!
                “Self-discipline isn't everything; look at Pol Pot.”
                —Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

                Comment


                • paladin2019
                  paladin2019 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Read the second paragraph, the one starting with, "The caballero may also..."

                  Also make sure you have the most recent pdf, v3.

                • paladin2019
                  paladin2019 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  That, or make sure the Edge's benefit survived the transition from prerelease to released version.

                  Why would you cut that benefit, PEG?

              • #9
                I'm not sure why you're focusing only on Riding when it serves many of the same functions as Driving, Boating, Piloting, Hacking, etc. The skill exists to fill a role within a particular setting. If the setting won't feature mounted combat, then inform players not to take the skill. The other thing I'm having trouble with is understanding precisely what you think the problem is. I haven't seen you isolate anything wrong other than to say it can be done by other skills. Okay, maybe, but skill overlap exists in other places too. For example, botany can be covered by either Science or Survival (the later being more narrowly applied, but the point stands).

                Shifting the role of the Riding skill to an Edge doesn't fix the "problem" as you presented it. You say the Riding skill is a "tax" but that's exactly what your proposed Edge is. As you presented it, all players receive -2 to mounted actions without the Edge. That's virtually the same as an untrained rider rolling d4-2 Riding. For the same cost as taking the Edge, a character can gain a d6 in Riding, which is enough to succeed at most Riding rolls. An argument can be made that the Edge actually requires more investment than the skill because the character must meet the Edges Requirements first.

                Going back to my initial point, I fail to see how Riding is less valuable than other niche skills. It's been common practice since Deluxe version to expand Riding to include a limited form of "animal handling," including such things as animal husbandry. This can be a useful subset even in games without a lot of mounted combat. It's much more accessible for players to drop one or two points into Riding than it is to build toward qualifying for the proposed Edge. And the end result is practically the same.

                Does Mounted Combat have its hiccups? Sure. Personally, I'm not a fan of forcing a rider to use the lower of Fighting or Riding. I'd prefer to see a choice... something like the mount counting as an Innocent Bystander on a roll of 1 or 2 if the attacker uses a Fighting die that higher than their Riding. This provides a more interesting exchange, rather than forcing the player to equally improve both skills if they want to be competent at mounted fighting. Maybe you can look into making one or two small changes (like the above) before taking the nuclear option.
                Last edited by Deskepticon; 04-29-2022, 12:55 AM. Reason: Clarity

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                • paladin2019
                  paladin2019 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  To emphasize the first point, Riding is the Driving skill in pre-automobile settings. It is the skill that covers the use of beast-drawn vehicles.

                • Deskepticon
                  Deskepticon commented
                  Editing a comment
                  paladin2019 I wrote a one-shot mini-setting a few years ago where all the characters were young children (8-12yo), and I used Riding for bicycles, scooters, and skateboards. This was before SWADE and the "super-skill" Athletics. If I ever decide to update the setting, I'd still use Riding, just because bikes are a primary mode of transport for the kids getting around town.

              • #10
                I've used riding more in the context of chases and dramatic tasks than mounted combat. I could see settings where it should be rolled in to athletics or drive and handled with familiarity rules, but when I was running Deadlands horse chases and the like happened all the time.

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