Friday, September 30, 2011

Skills in Neoclassical Geek Revival or "I make the roll to scale the wall due to my years experience as a piano player"

One thing that always gets people about Neoclassical Geek Revival is the way skills are handled.  I hear much wailing and gnashing of teeth over how skills/non-weapon proficiencies "killed the game".  Bull.  The concept was a great one in terms of character customization,  the execution was just terrible.

Neoclassical Geek Revival has no list of skills.  Honestly the number of potential skills is daunting and the overlap between one skill and another makes it a jumbled mess.  Who would have thunk that representing the entirety of human education and knowledge would be difficult?

So players in Neoclassical Geek Revival make up their own skills.  This includes things you would expect like "Forestry" , "Blacksmithing", or "Bear lore"  but also ends up with more unconventional things like "Procrastination", "Wilful ignorance", and "Social leech".   And they all work fine.

Bullshit is an important player skill in Neoclassical Geek Revival.   The most common use of skills is on d20 rolls: attribute checks, saving throws,  social conflict rolls, stealth action rolls, etc.  Each skill you can justify (pronounced bullshit) into being relevant to your action will give you a +2 roll.  This will require giving some situational explanation and will lead to some "out there" justifications.

So in the title example,  A character was rolling to scale a wall and justified a +2 bonus from "Piano playing".  How?  Well they described how they were crawling over the wall and their fingers were just barely holding onto the lip of the roof.  A lesser man may have fallen to their death as their fingers couldn't hold on,  but thanks to years of piano playing the character had strengthened their fingers to the point where they could hold on long enough for their feet to gain traction on the wall and push themselves up onto the roof.

The second use of skills is investigations,  but that is much more mundane.  Rather than "I search for information!",   the players just state what kind of information they are after the GM gives them information relating to that.

Note that skills are in no way linked to levels,  gaining in levels does not give you more skills.  That is a function of time, effort, and intelligence.

A final note is that I did not include combat rolls on this list of places to use skills.  The reason attack and defence rolls do not use skills , while a jarring break, is a practical matter.  Because the stakes are so high (continue playing VS make a new character),  the amount of bullshit can make the game a right piss-off. Now skills can still be used in rolls resulting FROM combat (like a saving throw),  but the actual "axe to forehead" has an arbitrary break.  Not thrilled with the arbitrary break,  but it does seem to make people enjoy the game more (which is the ultimate goal).


From Neoclassical Geek Revival,  Page 19
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Skills and Knowledge


  Every character in NGR starts
with a number of skills equal to their
intelligence score. Skills represent the
large amount of training an individual
will pick up that is not directly related to
their primary training. Skills fall into
three categories: Languages, Knowledge
and Weapons.

  Languages represent the written
or spoken tongues of the world. There is
no default language that everyone
speaks, so languages are quite important.
Being able to speak a language does not
give you the ability to read a language
and vice versa. If you can speak a
language and read another language with
the same alphabet you can probably
manage to grasp basic concepts through
reading.

  Knowledge skills are the most
useful and versatile skills. Beyond being
used in investigations, skills have several
uses. A skill may be used to grant a +2
knowledge bonus to related tasks.
Someone with wood lore might gain a
+2 bonus to a hiding check in the forest,
or with religion they may gain +2 in a
social conflict’s appeal involving a
church. Skills may also be used (in
conjunction with attribute checks) to
perform tasks. An individual with
blacksmithing may be required to
complete a set of strength and awareness
checks to forge a high quality sword.
Players are encouraged to think up of
their own general skills. Skills that are
deemed too broad by group consensus
must be broken into specialities.

  Weapon skills are also
considered general skills, but with an
important second function. Characters
are assumed to be skilled in any
weapons required or commonly used
with that skill. A character with fencing
would know how to use swords, a
lumberjack an axe and a butcher a knife.
If a character is using a weapon they
have no training with, they suffer a –2
penalty to their attack roll.

  Characters may attempt to gain a
new skill each season they spend
training full time. Character’s make an
intelligence check at the end of the
season. If they succeed, they have gained
the new skill. The time will be increased
if the character has less time to study, if
studying part time for instance, the
check will be after half of a year. As an
optional rule, a player may sing an
appropriate montage song while making
the intelligence check. If he fails the
first check, he may make a re-roll 30
seconds later, providing he is still
singing the song and has not yet
forgotten the words. Other players are
allowed to join in.


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1 comment:

  1. Love the idea of the players justifying their skills to the GM. It gets player buy-in and I think it leads to better role-playing.

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