Clevermed
Topic Author
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon 11 Jan 2021, 23:25

[ALPHA] Thoughts on Skills/Homebrew

Tue 12 Jan 2021, 01:21

Howdy folks, saw some slightly outdated conversations in the character generation thread regarding skills and how they'd potentially rework them since I agree with the sentiment that three skills per stat really doesn't seem like enough for a T2K-themed game. I'm trying to come up with a list of skill additions/reworks without getting too vague or specific in scope and am curious what other people have been coming up with!

Strength:
- Close Combat
- Heavy Weapons
- Stamina
- Intimidation: I'm a sucker for giving meat-head characters SOME kind of social skill they can use
- Mechanics: I feel like there should be distinction between mechanical repair/electronic repair. Tech as a skill just seemed like it covered way too much ground and breaking it up makes sense to me, otherwise you'll probably only really have one "tech guy" in the party who can handle a multitude of things ranging from demolitions, BTR repair, and computer hacking in one skill.
- Construction: While Mechanics could also serve as the go-to "building stuff" skill, I think Construction is worthwhile to have because the action of repairing up buildings, building fortifications, and expanding seems to be a pretty common theme at SOME point in most T2K games. I also just liked the idea from previous editions that some characters were useful not because they were audacious, buff, rambo-esque woodsmen, but rather, they were well-educated and lucky enough to know about all the shit mankind is going to need to get back up on two feet again.

Agility:
- Driving
- Mobility
- Ranged Combat
- Intrusion: Pretty much same application as in previous editions, but making it more of a general skullduggery/thievery skill as opposed to JUST being used for opening locks. Casing a place to find the best place to break is an example off the top of my head.
- Stealth: Recon strikes me as one of those skills that covers TOO much and is conversely way more useful than other skills by comparison. Splitting the skill between stealth/actual observation makes sense to me.
- First Aid: I'm in the camp of not liking Medical Aid being in Empathy, just feels like they were trying to stick to three skills per stat and needed somewhere to shove a medical skill into. Along with that, I think it covers far too much for just one single skill. I think battlefield trauma, on-the-scene style medical care should be separated to this skill to represent the focus on muscle memory/quick thinking that lends itself to combat trauma care.
- Demolitions: Explosives always feel dangerous enough to me in games like this that handwaving the use of it underneath another technical skill can sometimes take away the threat of an explosive all together. If you want to rig up the road that MILGOV convoy is rolling through with explosives, you're going to need a guy who specializers in that to do it for you, otherwise your expertly laid trap not going off will be the least of your worries!

Intelligence:

- Recon: Remove the stealth applications and make it more for observation/ambush prevention. Could definitely be used in conjunction with artillery weapons as a sort of forward observation skill too, perhaps.
- Survival
- Electronics: Make this skill purely for electronics (radios, computers, certain military hardware, etc) to separate a more tech-minded character concept from your usual grease monkey.
- Scrounging: I felt like just because you were a grease-monkey/radio nerd character, didn't necessarily instantly make you good at finding the materials you need for your projects. You can easily learn what's worth scavenging and how to find it easily without directly knowing how something functions/what it can be used for. Also helps make Tech not one of those skills you can use for pretty much anything.
- Medicine: Whereas something like first-aid is more applicable for the guy who just lost his leg after the squad decided to roll through a mindfield, there needs to be a skill that can apply to long-term/disease care. It'll help distinguish the educated characters who are either medical corp officers/civilian healthcare workers from the infantry platoon medic or EMT who got drafted into a militia.
- Education (Type): Maybe a bit more vague, but I feel like the lack of an Education stat kind of limits options for a significant amount of skills that thematically would fit well for a character while having some use every now and then. So instead why not have a broad Education skill that can be used to represent a wide array of knowledge a player could know that doesn't necessarily fit into anything else or warrant its own unique skill. Education (History) for the character who majored it in college, Education (Civil Engineering) for more applicable construction knowledge that would definitely be useful for a campaign centered around community building, or more creative applications, like the pre-med student who knew a bit of Education (Chemistry) and is now pumping out drugs for a local marauder gang.
- Profession (Type): I like cascading skills, sue me. Profession as a skill just seems like a solid way to cover a bunch of other job-related knowledge and info that otherwise you'd have to force into skills that don't make sense, handwave and just let them do it because it's a part of their backstory, or make new skills for in the similar vein that the Education skill does for academic knowledge.
Empathy:
- Command
- Persuasion: Narrow the focus to just purely persuasion checks, not literally any kind of social skill a character could make.
- Deception: Persuasion being a catch-all social skill is a bit boring, for the same reasons I've mentioned in similar skills. Deception seems like an easy fit.
- Interrogation: Good niche to fill that doesn't necessarily fall plainly underneath any other skill.
- Language: Another one that's more of a "maybe" for me, but I think there's value in rating how well a character knows secondary languages besides just either knowing it/not knowing it. Each rating could represent a degree of competency in the language: A being native equivalency and D being tourist-tier knowledge of the language. Any attempts to convey/garner information in a level of complexity above that of your own skill level would require a skill check. Could potentially give different players more opportunities for the spot-light, considering most T2K set-pieces tend to have a wide array of friendly/opposed forces made up of coalition units intermingled with locals, so you never know when knowing a little bit of something like Ukranian could save your skin!
- HUMINT: A mix of a sense-motive equivalent as well as gathering information, the general ability to read people and interpret that accordingly.
Last edited by Clevermed on Wed 13 Jan 2021, 04:55, edited 3 times in total.
 
User avatar
omnipus
Posts: 479
Joined: Mon 22 Jun 2020, 20:58

Re: [ALPHA] Thoughts on Skills

Wed 13 Jan 2021, 00:01

I agree with most of your thoughts here, including the places where you ran into problems or felt like stuff just didn't fit (like Strength:Mechanic). I think the drive to keep the skills perfectly evenly distributed among the attributed is part of the problem, and ultimately holding the system back.

Stealth/intrusion sound like the same thing to me, really. (I mean, I see how they're not, but in a system with so few skills no matter what, merging them is likely a better solution than not)

Education doesn't quite feel right but there needs to be something similar that has absolutely nothing to do with Recon! Good lord.

Persuasion/deception split also seems essentially right.
 
Clevermed
Topic Author
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon 11 Jan 2021, 23:25

Re: [ALPHA] Thoughts on Skills

Wed 13 Jan 2021, 00:23

I updated the list, because I ultimately felt that adding another cascade skill in the form of Profession could be useful covering the INT skill issue where you other add TOO many skills for different actions or have too few that covers far too much like with Recon, and Construction seems like a skill that at least sort of makes sense for Strength and adds a bit more character variety. Demolitions as well, because I was struggling to come up with a skill I could give to some of the military careers I was trying to homebrew that would cover explosives, but not suddenly give them a set of skills outside of what they would reasonably learn in that role.
Stealth/intrusion sound like the same thing to me, really. (I mean, I see how they're not, but in a system with so few skills no matter what, merging them is likely a better solution than not)
Most systems I usually play (I admit to T2K 4E being my first exposure to Free League games besides just hearing about them offhand, so my intent here might not be fitting exactly in line with what the system is trying for) differentiate between Stealth and your usual criminal skullduggery, so it just makes sense to me. I find the distinction between a Stealthy character and a character who is good at Intrusion worthwhile to make, but just mainly because I don't quite like the image in my head of a bunch of ex-Army Rangers using the same skill they used to sneak past a couple of bandit patrols to jimmy open the locked door they run into afterwards. I tend to err on the side of liking more granularity in systems however and don't mind if it gets a bit cumbersome, but yeah, I agree there's a good argument to merging it.
Education doesn't quite feel right but there needs to be something similar that has absolutely nothing to do with Recon! Good lord.
I would say that they attempted to fix that with some of the more unique specialties, like Historian, but honestly specialties as a whole would need a big rework to feel more unique/flavorful in order to fill in the gaps the skills leave if you go that route.
Last edited by Clevermed on Wed 13 Jan 2021, 00:54, edited 1 time in total.
 
Clevermed
Topic Author
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon 11 Jan 2021, 23:25

Re: [ALPHA] Skill Thoughts/Homebrew

Wed 13 Jan 2021, 00:52

So taking some inspiration from 2E's Lifepath system, I've been messing around with basically trying to mash it together with 4E and just seeing what works and how various characters look like in comparison to the Alpha rules. Using the new skills I wrote up in the OP as a part of this process, since the alpha skills/specialties really limit how creative you can get with your lifepaths. The one idea that I found most applicable was how 2E splits the skills you can receive from a Career into Primary Term Skills and Subsequent Term Skills. Primary Term Skills are given to you during your first term in that job to represent the basic, no bullshit skills you'd need to know to start working in that specific field and would need to know. Afterwards, any additional terms in that career in the future, you will instead pick from the Subsequent Term Skills which will allow you to improve the Primary Skills or more specialized, fringe skills used for your particular profession. What balances well, is that the older a character gets, the less Subsequent Term skills they're allowed to pick; so while older characters will typically have much higher skill ranks than younger characters, the gap isn't too large and the younger characters benefit from higher attributes.

(Assuming each life-term is four years instead of the default 1d6) if Joe Snuffy at age 21 has just finished his first four years in an Airborne Infantry unit, he'll only have received (for example) Ranged Combat/Mobility as his skill advances for that term. However, now that he is past his first term, he can now choose from a new list of additional skills that would represent more experience/training you would get access to the longer you stick it out with 3 points to allocate amongst them however he wants. So then, he could grab two ranks in Heavy Weapons to represent being assigned to a heavy weapons squad, along with a point in stamina to explain the new endurance that'd probably come as a result of lugging around an MMG all day long. To prevent players accumulating large amounts of skills and incentivizing a squad of geriatrics, you receive less Subsequent Skill points per term as you get older. 21-29 is 3 skill points, 29-37 is 2 skill points, 37-49 is 1 skill points, afterwards you could perhaps have the player make a skill check against the desired skill's base attribute to see if they retain any significant information or just cap out the skill point gain at 1.

Something like this would need far more career variety to pick from than is what's available in the base book however, so I started working on generating up more careers based on the older editions for both military/civilian careers as well as education opportunities. It's a big disorganized mess atm but I'll report back if I get something that puts out a character that isn't horribly gimped/overpowered compared to alpha characters.
 
welsh
Posts: 166
Joined: Sun 29 Nov 2020, 15:53

Re: [ALPHA] Thoughts on Skills

Wed 13 Jan 2021, 01:16

Some kind of Education skill is a great idea. At some point there needs to be a skill that just represents Knowing Stuff About Things. It's the skill that can form the bridge between a wildly general skill like Tech and the concrete specifics of the task: the character with a sound knowledge of tools, methods, and materials being assisted by the character with a knowledge of the principles involved. And maybe you take a general Knowing Stuff About Things level, and then specialize: "Okay, your education helps Bob repair the windmill, but not with your level A in Pre-Renaissance Theatre in the English Midlands. Don't worry, I'm sure there will be a game application for that someday."

Instruction is a skill, obviously, but I am leery of skills that have rare applications, as players then tend to avoid them anyway. I think a skill like Interrogation has more obvious day-to-day applications and would be a valuable addition, as another alternative to what's already thrown out there.

Languages are kind of a problem because there's the existing Linguist specialty. And everyone then takes the languages with the greatest game utility, so you have a group of American soldiers and none of them speak any Spanish but they all speak Polish....
 
Clevermed
Topic Author
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon 11 Jan 2021, 23:25

Re: [ALPHA] Thoughts on Skills

Wed 13 Jan 2021, 02:36

Instruction is a skill, obviously, but I am leery of skills that have rare applications, as players then tend to avoid them anyway. I think a skill like Interrogation has more obvious day-to-day applications and would be a valuable addition, as another alternative to what's already thrown out there.
That's a fair assessment, as much as I like the idea of an Instruction-style skill something like Interrogation would cover something that isn't necessarily obvious for any other skills the more I think about it. Especially considering Instruction does admittedly already fall very easily into something a character skilled in Command would be able to do without much in terms of leaps in logic.
Languages are kind of a problem because there's the existing Linguist specialty. And everyone then takes the languages with the greatest game utility, so you have a group of American soldiers and none of them speak any Spanish but they all speak Polish....
True! I sort of intended on taking a look at Specialties and either rewriting the ones that were super boring (80% of the specialties providing only +1 modifiers is pretty lackluster) or adding new ones all together. The only specialties that do stuff beyond just your standard +1 are the ones intended to be stop-gaps for not having more skills in the first place, Linguist being one of them imo. So I'd probably just toss that and use the Language skill as the focus, with maybe a Linguist style specialty allowing a player to roll to understand languages that they don't know but are similar via GM decision. I'd also argue that players ONLY taking whatever seems most useful (so Polish if we were running the default setting) overlooks the fact that the country is probably also going to be full of quite a few different bands composed of NATO/Soviet stragglers and their allies, so it's up to the GM to encourage people to branch out and not all get the same skill in a case like that.
 
leonpoi
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri 08 Jan 2021, 05:10

Re: [ALPHA] Thoughts on Skills/Homebrew

Wed 13 Jan 2021, 03:42

I like what I see here - very nice.

Here are my thoughts:

Strength (6 skills as proposed) - I like the mix proposed and I'm interested to see how this maps to specialities.

Agility (7 skills as proposed) - I personally would map First Aid as a speciality under Medical to be mapped to Empathy BUT with the idea that certain procedures could require different attributes to be used (in this way similar to Heavy Weapons in v4 - this could even be explicit in the speciality). If you did this then Agility skills would drop to 6 skills also. Intrusion I like as a skill concept but what to call it ! I'm guessing that it covers a host of things like picklocks, stealing, spy-trade craft, casing joints, forgery too (or would forgery be under another skill?). Demolitions are cool and suitability different.

Intelligence (7 skills as proposed) - Education I like and I think for my taste instead of cascading skills you could just have specialities and use the rule that you need the speciality to use the knowledge. Scrounging I do like as a skill and it seems like it's something that tw2k just couldn't live without! Now I notice that TECH as a skill is gone entirely, which I'm ok with, I think the lines start getting blurred with Profession / Electronics etc - but it could work. I see that Medicine is under Int and not emp - I'm on the fence about that but I think I totally understand where you're coming from. Profession has become the new TECH?

Empathy - (6 skills as proposed) - I think HUMINT is basically Empathy! but I do like the gathering information component - perhaps it's just the name that's not sitting right with me but I can see an interesting set of specialities underneath it. I feel that Instruction sounds like it's better as a speciality of Command. Language I think is a good idea - again I would have a Skill die and handle new languages as Specialities (which while not totally accurate is trying to get across that some people are just "good" at languages, or has been exposed to enough of them that they pick them up easily).

I think therefore, and I suspect I did my maths wrong, if FirstAid and Medicine flipped back to EMP and Instruction was dropped, then that would make 6 skills per attribute (not saying symmetry is essential but it would be nice).
 
Clevermed
Topic Author
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon 11 Jan 2021, 23:25

Re: [ALPHA] Thoughts on Skills/Homebrew

Wed 13 Jan 2021, 04:53

In regards to the separation of Medicine/First-Aid and subsequently splitting them between INT and AGL, it's mainly just something that makes sense to me and what I'd opt to use personally in my games just because I have some medical background IRL and like to try to make things feel fairly authentic/realistic as best I can in settings that kind of stuff lends to. So to me, medical knowledge which is an extremely broad skill to have and applicable in a variety of ways (saving your buddy from more immediate death from massive bloodloss, to stitching up some cuts after the fact, to knowing what kind of antibiotic would be best, or knowing what he ends up coming down with if the wound gets infected and how to deal with it) so if you value that kind of style I think that additional granularity is needed. On top of that, being under Empathy just makes little sense unless you're specifically trying to hit X amount of skills underneath a stat for balance sake (which is totally fine, just not something I would care about too much personally), because in my personal experience while charisma, amiability, and emotional stability (how EMP is described RAW per the draft manual) is certainly helpful for medical skills, it definitely isn't a requirement or basis on any of the skills pertaining to most medical tasks.

Specialties could be an alternate way of cutting down on the open-ended nature of a cascading skill if that's not your jam, totally. I'd just say the only reason I'd be against that is because I'd rather have my players come up with whatever specific degrees/knowledge bases they want their character to be able to draw on, as opposed to just the specialties that are available to them. But yeah, maybe some more clear distinction between Electronics vs. Profession would be needed. Electronics would apply to the physical repair, working, and maintenance of most standard electronic/electric devices (radios, computers, any "modern" tech by the setting's standard at least), whereas Profession is intended to be a cascading skill in the vein Education is, but for career-orientated knowledge/skills that don't deserve their own skill on their own. Perhaps it's a pointless distinction to make, especially since it can get confusing when it seems redundant in the event a skill already covers something similar, but I'll describe how I imagine it brought up in play to see if it seems useful:

Players clear out a marauder camp based out of an old telecommunications building that mostly survived the bombs falling, while it's in rough shape and the marauders did little to improve the infrastructure, there's a lot of electronic components and wiring to be worked with. Let's say the Squad is looking for a new base of operations for the mean-time and this is as good as place as any, so why not fix it up? The resident electronics expert, a former radio operator who left his previous unit a few weeks prior, uses his Electronics skill to patch up and visible deficiencies he sees and get the system up and running. Does it work? If he passes, sure! Profession (Electrician) on the other hand, could be rolled by the guy who happened to be an actual Electrician/went to school for it for a life-term to garner more specific information/results than what a straight-up electronics check would give you. So in this case, a successful Profession check would tell the player that while he can expect to get it back up in running in the short-term, it'd be extremely easy to overload the local system unless some more in-depth overhauls were done that required additional parts. Might be a pointless distinction to some, but to me, I feel like it fills the gap pretty neatly in and open-ended way that allows some input from the player.
 
User avatar
omnipus
Posts: 479
Joined: Mon 22 Jun 2020, 20:58

Re: [ALPHA] Thoughts on Skills/Homebrew

Wed 13 Jan 2021, 07:59

I think that having very specific things like that which overlap significantly doesn't really fit the design of the game, although I see where you're going with it. It sounds like an approach more consistent with the existing design would be something like the Electronics skill but then an Electrician specialty which allows more sophisticated "moves" or even just to skip die rolls altogether in some circumstances. (on the other hand a core concept in the game is that we shouldn't be rolling for menial tasks of any kind... it's sometimes hard to square that up with big variance of skill levels).

This is not a highly granular system, and I don't think it ever will be, or should be -- but it still needs a little more specificity in order to give suitable depth. There's a middle ground there that requires thinking of skills a bit less literally and a bit more holistically. For instance:

I find the distinction between a Stealthy character and a character who is good at Intrusion worthwhile to make, but just mainly because I don't quite like the image in my head of a bunch of ex-Army Rangers using the same skill they used to sneak past a couple of bandit patrols to jimmy open the locked door they run into afterwards. I tend to err on the side of liking more granularity in systems however and don't mind if it gets a bit cumbersome, but yeah, I agree there's a good argument to merging it.

The answer here is that if you get trained in slinking around the dark and going into places you don't belong, you're going to learn most if not all aspects of that! The Rangers are gonna teach you how to step softly and how to avoid shadows and how to use breaker bars, wire-cutters, and bypass common security elements. Because it's all part of the same job. And the same could be said for if you were a criminal. Sneaking your way up onto a ledge is great until the first time you need to get into a locked window. These skills are in pursuit of the same goal. So approach them from a goal-oriented perspective and it all makes sense.
 
User avatar
omnipus
Posts: 479
Joined: Mon 22 Jun 2020, 20:58

Re: [ALPHA] Thoughts on Skills/Homebrew

Wed 13 Jan 2021, 08:04

As far as languages... the real problem, as mentioned, is that every character ends up speaking Polish, English, and Russian. Because little else is of any practical use. Which is fine, we are in Poland and surrounded by Russians, after all. There's a level of selection bias implicit in any character that exists in this world as to how they've survived. You'd have to be kind of an idiot to have not picked up Polish, at least, given that you've been in their country for the last several years and have no immediate prospects of leaving.

This is my argument for why this is not a skill worth caring about. If basically everyone has it, why bother wasting space on a sheet for it?

Furthermore, what is very rarely any fun at all is doing a session where characters can't communicate with each other. Especially party members. Occasionally interesting, but overwhelmingly tiresome. So my ruling for both common sense and playability is that everyone can speak functional Polish. Enough to get by in most situations. Need more than that? That's what the specialty is for.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests