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Using Alternative Characteristics for Skills

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I've never actually used the rule in the corebook however I'm curious if anyone has ever used the alternative characteristics when making a skill test. I've been hesitant to use the rule because it introduces (in my mind) unnecessary complexity and it seems to run counter to the idea of a skill having a set characteristic that you always roll against.

 

I can see the appeal of it in certain situations eg. Agility instead of Perception for Survival tests when controlling a mount, however using an alternative characteristic seems to be an admission that the skill system doesn't work for all situations. I like how the skill list has been condensed from 1st edition but grouping skills together and saying that the standard characteristic may not be useful in all situations seems to undermine the rationale for grouping the skills in the first place.

 

Has anyone used alterative characteristics when making skill tests? Do you think it helps having that option or does it just muddle how skills work in general by making the standard characteristic not very standard at all?

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I do it on a semi-regular basis, myself.  

 

I don't consider it 'unnecessary complexity,' it's just a simple way to show how things can occasionally be done from different angles.  Sure, you can use Perception/Scrutiny to spot something, but Intelligence/Scrutiny to wrack your brain and figure out where you've noticed it before makes a bit more sense.  

 

The main characteristic is still the standard, it's just you can sub in something else occasionally (or maybe you have a character who specializes in doing something a little differently).  

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I've used it quite a bit. Survival(agility) or Survival(fellowship) for riding and wrangling are the main ones.

 

As long as people aren't trying to use it to justify using their best stat for a skill, I'm okay with it. The point of a GM-ed RPG, rather than a co-operative game, is to have the GM there to 'tweak' the rules as best represents the situation, and players will always come up with a novel way to use a skill or idea.

 

Trade is another skill which makes sense varying the stat depending on the trade in question. I can imagine tasks where a trade task would be better resolved with strength or agility than intelligence.

 

The best example, I think, of this being used in a 'built in' rule is in Enemies Without - the Field Vivisection talent allows you to use a Medicae (BS) for called shots if you have the appropriate Forbidden Lore (Xenos) for the beastie you're trying to put down.

 

"Remember, blow off an arachnid's limb and it's still 75% combat effective. Aim for the nerve cluster to put it down for good. Would you like to know more?"

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The best example, I think, of this being used in a 'built in' rule is in Enemies Without - the Field Vivisection talent allows you to use a Medicae (BS) for called shots if you have the appropriate Forbidden Lore (Xenos) for the beastie you're trying to put down.

 

I'd personally prefer more of those codified rules that distinctly allow for using a different characteristic in a different test. If I recall correctly, the main heretek enemy in the core rulebook also had an ability that allowed him to make melee attacks against targets with cybernetics using WS (Tech-Use). That and Field Vivisection give well-defined circumstances where alternative characteristics and skills can be used instead of the standard.

 

I'm generally hesitant to use alternative characteristics because it feels a little bit too much like GM fiat. As much as DH1 had way too many skills, you were always certain that a specific skill was tied to a specific characteristic. I feel like the alternative characteristic rule is to side-step the issue that arose from condensing all of the skills from BC onwards. The aptitudes also don't really support using alternative characteristics as you can't choose to swap out your characteristic aptitude to match the one that you tend to use the skill for.

 

I appreciate hearing from you and MijRai about how you've used it however I think it tries to give the skill system greater flexibility when the rest of the game doesn't really support that outside of select talents and abilities. Personally I'm probably going to continue shying away from using them in my games.

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If you don't like doing so, don't. It is, after all, your game. I would suggest discussing it with your players; sometimes players like finding alternate uses for their skills - it doesn't just have to be you coming up with suggestions.

 

 

I'd always argue that almost any task you can define can generally be done multiple ways - as FATE puts it, the sneaky, forceful, smart, flashy, fast, etc.

 

Even when there were a million skills, there were different ways to approach even subset elements of those skills.

 

Concealment (Ag), for example. I get Agility as 'fine muscular control' to an extent, but Concealment - as opposed to say Silent Move (Ag), is basically standing still. Would Int or Per not be a perfectly sensible alternative for finding a sensible place to hide? And what if I'm hiding something else, not myself? Even in DH1 I think it suggested you might want to use Int for that.

 

Equally, Intimidate (S). All well and good, but intimidation comes from many things, not just being burly. A quiet-spoken man in a suit with a small obsidian rosette can be far, far scarier than the most gene-bulked out hive ganger.

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Would Int or Per not be a perfectly sensible alternative for finding a sensible place to hide? And what if I'm hiding something else, not myself? Even in DH1 I think it suggested you might want to use Int for that.

In the DH2 adventure Forgotten Gods there is a side bar giving an example for that: If not all members of the warband have the Stealth skill then one can make a Stealth (Int) test to conceal himself and one additional acolyte per DoS (or something similar).

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