Tuesday, August 9, 2011

War In The Heavens pt. 3: A skillful thought

OK, so I have thought about this for a little while now and I have a few thoughts on skills. By skills I mean any modifier to the base roll that is decided on by the player and recorded on the character sheet. I realize(after I wrote it down) that that description takes a bit of deconstruction. I will endeavor to explain it in more detail.

A skill is a modifier to a roll. What this means is that there will be a a base roll that will be modified. I only realized later that I was actually making a core rules conceit of my game by defining what I thought of as a skill. I realized later that there could be a system out there that did not have a base roll. Not that world changing I know, but still something I need to keep in mind as I go along on this process.

Base roll needs a definition in this case, I think. In my definition a base roll is a die, or number of dice, that is rolled in a conflict no matter what. It can be modified by skills, or by environmental factors determined by game master or some other factor. What this means is that, in my game, there will always be a die to roll when it comes time to do something in a conflict. So there is a chance that someone can do anything, even if they lack a skill. This is already showing a tendency toward a cinematic heroic feel. In that anyone can do anything, though some people will be far better at some things than others.

Back to skills, skills are modifiers chosen by the player and listed on the character sheet. This may seem simple but this is crucial to my understanding of skills. Without skills, the need for a character sheet is severely lessened. What all of this means is that a skill is not chosen by the GM, so it allows for the player to exert some measure of control over the game. This is an interesting idea that I decided to explore as I went along.

So for every skill there is a primary focus. For shooting, this would be shooting(obviously), for driving, it would be driving a vehicle of some sort. This is the easiest way to view a skill, as a very specific focus for conflict. I think it can be more. For the purposes of my earlier description, attributes(as they are described in many games) would fall under the descriptor of skill. Aspects from Fate would also fall into this category, the same is true of beliefs and instincts in Burning Wheel. As my idea of skill encompasses such a broad array of mechanics I have some choices to make.

There is also the idea that a skill could have many foci to it. There would be the primary focus, which is the basic descriptor. Then there is the secondary focus. Something dealing with knowledge of the skill. With shooting, it would be knowledge of guns. How to build then,maintain them, and such like. Then there would be a tertiary focus. This would be a social focus. Going back to the shooting example, this would be the ability to talk with gun experts, maybe the characters fame in the field of guns, and the ability to purchase a gun at a better price. I am leaning toward this direction, though it still requires some thought.

I could separate skills out in the traditional attribute/skill dichotomy seen in other systems. This does have a long tradition of use behind it. It would be easy to do. Yet I do not think that it is necessary. I will probably go back and forth on this as I go along with this project, but at this moment I am leaning away from that idea.

Skills could also be a singular item. For every task you could have a skill for it. This is kind of the direction that was taken in Icons with specialties. I think I like this and I think I will be leaning this direction as we go along. Though I like the ideas of aspects, so I will probably do a bit with that.

So that is my first thoughts on skills. It is a little meandering and wandered into dice mechanics a bit, but I think there is enough there for me to think on. I have made a few crucial decisions made, and am beginning to get a feel for where this system is going.

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