Aramur

Skill use: often vs rarely used skills

66 posts in this topic

All skills are created equal. At least as far as the amount of XP it costs to raise their rank. However, they aren't equal in the amount of use they see and the way they. After 10 sessions of play, we have roughly the following situation in terms of average use:

Multiple times every session

  • Astrogation
  • Computers
  • Cool/Vigilance
  • Mechanics
  • Melee
  • Perception
  • Piloting: Space
  • Ranged: Heavy
  • Ranged: Light

Once per session

  • Athletics
  • Coercion
  • Coordination
  • Charm
  • Medicine
  • Negotiation
  • Piloting: Planetary
  • Stealth
  • Skullduggery

Once every few sessions

  • Brawl
  • Discipline
  • Gunnery
  • Knowledge: Core Worlds
  • Knowledge: Outer Rim
  • Knowledge: Underworld

Never used

  • Leadership
  • Knowledge: Lore
  • Resilience
  • Streetwise
  • Survival
  • Xenology

One of the big difference I see is between GM-initiated skills and player-initiated skills. Many skills have a big player choice in when they apply. A player can choose to resolve many issues by shooting their guns: their choice (not always the best choice, but their choice nonetheless). But its much harder to actively use Skullduggery: it needs a proper situation while skills that have much broader application (like Computers and Mechanics) are much more likely to have opportunities for active use.

On the extreme end, you have a skill like Survival: it  will rarely if ever see a player actively requesting to use it. Same goes for Discipline. They are reactive skills, and players are mostly if not wholly dependent on their GM to see play.

Social skills are a weird bunch in the mix, because you can Charm, Intimidate and Deceive without actually needing to make a skill check. Again, they are mostly dependent on the GM, if he requires the situation to have a check.

Also, some skills might see use, but when their use isn't narratively important, it feels less relevant. Astrogation might see use nearly every session, but more because the rules said you need a check to jump to hyperspace. There is rarely a moment where people go: wow, we are really happy we have a skilled Astrogator in the party because it has not been used at critical junctures yet.

This tends to see players less interested in investing ranks in some of these skills. They are simply not good value for the XP spent.

I'm wondering about the situation in other groups: what skill see a lot of use, and what skills are rarely used? Do players respond to this by investing mostly XP in the often used skills?

 

Edited by Aramur
Felswrath likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/16/2017 at 7:31 AM, Aramur said:

I'm wondering about the situation in other groups: what skill see a lot of use, and what skills are rarely used? Do players respond to this by investing mostly XP in the often used skills?

My Group ( I am the GM)  seems very different than yours. After roughly the same amount of sessions:

  • Astrogation has been used Once (only called for when under pressure), piloting space (once), piloting planetary (twice)
  • Knowledge xeno, underworld, education, used almost every other session (I throw extra wookiedia flavor at them all the time)
  • Streetwise and resilience have shown up a few times.

You have made an observation about the "player vs GM" initiated skills and to a certain extent for some skills there is that delineation, but there is no reason a player couldn't proactively think of a way to use a typical "GM called for skill".  Also, I disagree that certain skills are more valuable or "worthwhile", its all about context.  Ultimately it comes down to three things

  • Type of GM: It's up to the GM to try create uses for skills that are more "GM initiated" (resilience, knowledge). If for some reason a GM is not utilizing a skill, either don't invest in it or mention to them you'd like to use it more.
  • Type of Campaign or Character: Not all skills will be relevant to a character concept or the campaign. A wookiee slave revolt campaign is likely to be high on brawl and very low on Know Coreworlds, but that does not mean the skills are less valuable by design, just possibly less useful in that particular setting.
  • Player imagination:  Players should be encouraged to think of creative ways of using "less-used" skills, or skills that fall "outside of the box" of their normal use. Examples:
    • Use brawl to challenge this guy to an arm wrestling contest instead of charm 
    • Use resilience to put a cigarette out on your face without flinching to intimidate instead of coercion
    • Use Knowledge Xeno to learn that race X is allergic to Jawa juice, and skulduggery to slip it into into his drink so he begins a sneezing fit instead of defeating with combat
    • (Actually used in my game) Use knowledge mechanics instead of charm/negotiation when talking up a droid merchant they needed information from.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The knowledge skills can be very dependent on how familiar the players/DM are with Star Wars lore. 

28 minutes ago, ThreeAM said:

piloting space (once)

You haven't had a ship battle of any kind?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/16/2017 at 5:31 AM, Aramur said:

Social skills are a weird bunch in the mix, because you can Charm, Intimidate and Deceive without actually needing to make a skill check. Again, they are mostly dependent on the GM, if he requires the situation to have a check.

My GM style is such that pretty much all of those require a roll.

If the players lie, they roll to Deceive, unless the deception is so minor it's essentially the combat equivalent of coup de grace.

If the players threaten, they roll to Intimidate. You can't do it without actively making a check.

If the players hope for something in return for their kind words, they roll Charm. Even if they're just being polite, if they're low on Charm they might inadvertently be offensive.

 

Even in high-combat adventures, my players often roll more social rolls than physical ones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, CitizenKeen said:

My GM style is such that pretty much all of those require a roll.

If the players lie, they roll to Deceive, unless the deception is so minor it's essentially the combat equivalent of coup de grace.

If the players threaten, they roll to Intimidate. You can't do it without actively making a check.

If the players hope for something in return for their kind words, they roll Charm. Even if they're just being polite, if they're low on Charm they might inadvertently be offensive.

Even in high-combat adventures, my players often roll more social rolls than physical ones.

I guess it depends on how you play it. 

Sometimes the GM doesn't know if the players are planning to deceive or not. In fact, players may accept the mission from the Hutt crime lord when speaking with him and later when discussing it privately desire its a better course of action to backstab him. There is no social roll the Hutt can make to prevent such a deception. They might have intended to agree but after coming across a better offer later might change their mind. Many deceptions don't even require social interaction, so no rolls there. Lying is a very small subset of deception and smart PCs that are bad at lying but great at deception tend to know when to keep their mouth shut.

If you want to Coerce someone, you can threaten him with cutting of one of his fingers if he doesn't agree. Maybe you fail that initial roll and he doesn't believe you will. But after his first finger drops on the ground and you tell him next time it will be a second finger, most sane NPCs don't care much about the Coercion roll of the one cutting off his fingers. A hostile person pointing a gun at you doesn't need a lot of social skill to coerce you to follow a certain action. That is true for real life and also true for Star Wars.

I remember a situation where we were in some pirate station negotiating for some parts to repair the Hyperdrive. A failed roll later the merchant asked for a price way too high. The PC simply grabbed the part, brandished his weapon and dropped the amounts of credits he though appropriate into the merchant's hands and said: that's all I'm paying, we both know its a fair price. Negotiation through force: an offer he couldn't refuse.

Of course, you can regulate such issues to lower the difficulty, add boost dice or similar things to a skill roll to make sure it will succeed. But basically that comes down to the same thing: you don't need the roll. And for a narrative game it should be like that. If a proper narrative reasons comes up for something to work, it will.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Aramur said:

If you want to Coerce someone, you can threaten him with cutting of one of his fingers if he doesn't agree. Maybe you fail that initial roll and he doesn't believe you will. But after his first finger drops on the ground and you tell him next time it will be a second finger, most sane NPCs don't care much about the Coercion roll of the one cutting off his fingers. A hostile person pointing a gun at you doesn't need a lot of social skill to coerce you to follow a certain action. That is true for real life and also true for Star Wars.

No it isn't, if it were then there is no point having these skills.  I don't let the players use that argument.  To me if they start cutting fingers off, but failed a Coercion roll (and sure, I might give them a boost die for the torture, depending on the NPC), it just means the NPC decided if the PCs are that nasty they're just going to kill them anyway, or they panic and start making up stuff they think the PCs want to hear.  That definitely happens IRL.  In game terms, failure doesn't have to mean the NPC is stubbornly silent, it just means the PCs aren't getting what they want.

Back to the OP...

I think the prevalence of skill use depends on your campaign.  All those in your "never used" group are in constant use in my latest game (maybe not Lore...yet).  I also think it's incumbent on the GM to spread things out a bit.  If you make such a list and see some gaps, filling them might lead to more interesting sessions, and the players respond by investing in those skills.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Aramur said:

I guess it depends on how you play it. 

Agreed. But that's true in combat, as well. I'm not making Luke Skywalker roll dice against a lowly Imperial repair technician.

Quote

Sometimes the GM doesn't know if the players are planning to deceive or not. In fact, players may accept the mission from the Hutt crime lord when speaking with him and later when discussing it privately desire its a better course of action to backstab him. There is no social roll the Hutt can make to prevent such a deception. They might have intended to agree but after coming across a better offer later might change their mind. Many deceptions don't even require social interaction, so no rolls there. Lying is a very small subset of deception and smart PCs that are bad at lying but great at deception tend to know when to keep their mouth shut.

If I need to know if the Hutt knew (in the past) that the players were lying (in the past), I'd make them roll. There's no reason you need to roll at the time of the action. If the players walk away from the Hutt Palace and one of them says "There's no way we're actually following through, right?" - I call for a Deception roll. But yes, changing of minds would preclude deception. And the fact that there are more ways to use Deception than just lying only bolsters my original assertion (IMO).

Quote

If you want to Coerce someone, you can threaten him with cutting of one of his fingers if he doesn't agree. Maybe you fail that initial roll and he doesn't believe you will. But after his first finger drops on the ground and you tell him next time it will be a second finger, most sane NPCs don't care much about the Coercion roll of the one cutting off his fingers. A hostile person pointing a gun at you doesn't need a lot of social skill to coerce you to follow a certain action. That is true for real life and also true for Star Wars.

True, but I would argue once you've cut off a finger, you don't need to roll Intimidation for the next question. Intimidation is the promise of future fulfillment of threats. Once you follow through, I would argue Intimidation is irrelevant until you promise something greater than losing a finger (life), especially in a world with Bacta tanks.

Quote

I remember a situation where we were in some pirate station negotiating for some parts to repair the Hyperdrive. A failed roll later the merchant asked for a price way too high. The PC simply grabbed the part, brandished his weapon and dropped the amounts of credits he though appropriate into the merchant's hands and said: that's all I'm paying, we both know its a fair price. Negotiation through force: an offer he couldn't refuse.

God I wish my players did that. It would cost them a lot more than the difference in credits. Developing a reputation as someone who steals from merchants? Costly.

I'd allow almost anything without a roll if my players are creative enough.

Of course there are situations where dice rolling doesn't matter. But coming up with a few situations where the players have all the agency and the NPCs have none doesn't really explain.

  • An NPC is tied to a tree. Do you have to roll Ranged (Light) to shoot them from ten feet? No.
  • An NPC is unconscious. Do you have to roll Melee to chop their head off with a lightsaber? No.

And so on and so forth.

Desslok and whafrog like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/16/2017 at 5:31 AM, Aramur said:

This tends to see players less interested in investing ranks in some of these skills. They are simply not good value for the XP spent.

It really depends on the character now doesn't it? A couple of games ago, I had a politico with a Leadership and Coercion both at 5 and she could Inspiring Rhetoric and Scathing Tirade like you wouldn't believe. But right now I'm playing a Tech, so of course Mechanics is high on her list of things to do, and leadership is pointless for her. We have a Big Game Safari guide in the party who has a very strong survival and uses it all the time for pathfinding and orienteering constantly and she has no use for astrogation or computers.

So you cant really pigeonhole skills like that.

SFC Snuffy, whafrog and 2P51 like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, CitizenKeen said:

True, but I would argue once you've cut off a finger, you don't need to roll Intimidation for the next question. Intimidation is the promise of future fulfillment of threats. Once you follow through, I would argue Intimidation is irrelevant until you promise something greater than losing a finger (life), especially in a world with Bacta tanks.

I generally try to not let my players get around a failed roll by simply rolling again when the consequences of a failed roll are high.  However, that said if circumstances change between rolls I would generally allow it but it still requires another roll.  The 2nd roll attempt may have boosts or setbacks from previous rolls, and the new circumstances may also be adding boosts or setbacks or even changing the difficulty.  Its the conditions that can change or modify a roll, But you could still fail that 2nd roll.  In this way instead of a single roll, you are creating a skill challenge scene/sequence.  

 

And to tie this into the topic , I find a lot of the skills can be used in interesting and unique ways when combined into a sequence.  For example as I mentioned before using a skill to set yourself up with some boost die for your next roll, for example using a knowledge xeno skill to boost that next charm roll. It also can provide a fun role-playing perspective when the guy who is heavy invested into a skill approaches everything with that mindset. For example, a droid doctor who tries to fix every problem with medicine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, ThreeAM said:

I generally try to not let my players get around a failed roll by simply rolling again when the consequences of a failed roll are high.  However, that said if circumstances change between rolls I would generally allow it but it still requires another roll.  The 2nd roll attempt may have boosts or setbacks from previous rolls, and the new circumstances may also be adding boosts or setbacks or even changing the difficulty.  Its the conditions that can change or modify a roll, But you could still fail that 2nd roll.  In this way instead of a single roll, you are creating a skill challenge scene/sequence. 

Agreed completely.

  • Player: I roll Coerce/Intimidate and threaten to chop off his finger.
  • Me: You fail.

The player now has two choices: follow-through (changing the state of the encounter), or accept their failure (and the fact that not chopping off a finger weakens further attempts to persuade).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To go back on topic, I'm interested in what other groups have as popular/often used skills, and which are rarely (if ever) used?

Or, even more importantly, which skills tend to be narratively interesting when used and which narratively trivial?

We use Astrogation often multiple times a session, but since there is often no time pressure the use is narratively trivial. A GM might ask you to make a Charm roll each time you approach a bartender with a friendly smile, but if you are not actually trying to get anything special done, the skill check also seems narratively trivial.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So far we have run the starter modules for eote using our own characters. Astrogation has not come much into play, while xenos lore and social skills have been quite prevalent. Fighting skills as well, and some athletics to get the **** out of there when outgunned (outbrawled, really). Combat skills have been narratively limited. Failures in social skills have been a blast so far xD They tried to convince a sec. Droid that he needed to report to Central. He did report to Central all right, but with them under his arms. 

We are more into the outer rim, but most of the skill usage depends on the environment you will be playing in. A spy campaign will require a skill set vastly different from that of a beyond the rim exploration or that of a bounty Hunter chasing his prey on the mid rim. 

Cheers, 

Xavi

Aramur likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, CitizenKeen said:

Out of curiosity, tangentially related: Is Willpower EotE's dump stat?

You still need Vigilance for initiative, Coercion for social (say "hi," Enforcer), and Discipline for fear.

Not to mention, strain is built off Willpower.

I'd say not.

CitizenKeen likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, CitizenKeen said:

Out of curiosity, tangentially related: Is Willpower EotE's dump stat?

Holy ****, I should think not. My Icewater-for-Blood gunslinger with no name is going to fill up on Coercion, have an outstanding Discipline and will have loads of Cool and Vigilance. Well, once I get him off the drawing board, that is.

whafrog, Geodes and SFC Snuffy like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Aramur said:

To go back on topic, I'm interested in what other groups have as popular/often used skills, and which are rarely (if ever) used?

Or, even more importantly, which skills tend to be narratively interesting when used and which narratively trivial?

We use Astrogation often multiple times a session, but since there is often no time pressure the use is narratively trivial. A GM might ask you to make a Charm roll each time you approach a bartender with a friendly smile, but if you are not actually trying to get anything special done, the skill check also seems narratively trivial.

This thread isn't really about the skills in EotE, it's about the table you're at.  It's on the GM to make the skill rolls non-trivial, and probably on the player to know what they want before they ask for a roll.  If you're just asking for Charm rolls for no reason, or the GM just asks for one for no reason, then everybody's time and game experience is wasted.  In your example, the question shouldn't be "Can I Charm the bartender?" it should be "Can I Charm the bartender, steer the conversation towards the recent murders, and see if he knows anything?"

Any skill can be made narratively interesting, I wouldn't even say any particular skill is more or less easy to make it so.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, CitizenKeen said:

Out of curiosity, tangentially related: Is Willpower EotE's dump stat?

This also depends on whether the Force is in play.  Willpower and Discipline are the primary resistances to everything Force.

Basically, anything can be a dump stat depending on the campaign and character concept.  I could see Int being a dump stat if no one is a mechanic, medic, or knowledge player.  Cunning seems to be low on my players list, although they continually regret it since they always make plans that involve deception, stealth, and underworld ties.   

SFC Snuffy likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, whafrog said:

This thread isn't really about the skills in EotE, it's about the table you're at.  It's on the GM to make the skill rolls non-trivial, and probably on the player to know what they want before they ask for a roll.  If you're just asking for Charm rolls for no reason, or the GM just asks for one for no reason, then everybody's time and game experience is wasted.  In your example, the question shouldn't be "Can I Charm the bartender?" it should be "Can I Charm the bartender, steer the conversation towards the recent murders, and see if he knows anything?"

Any skill can be made narratively interesting, I wouldn't even say any particular skill is more or less easy to make it so.

Or lets say that you're just charming the bartender for no good reason other than perhaps making her forget your bar tab and slip you her com number. A roll against her discipline - oh, lets call it two reds and a purple, since she has to deal with a TON of drunk idiots on a nightly basis - comes up double despair. Oh, did I say she was a bartender? No, she was really a undercover cop on a sting and you just happened to hit on the codephrase that the contact looking to buy 500 kilos of Death Sticks was suppose to use. She gives the surveillance van outside the high sign, the vice squad busts in on a raid, and after you and your friends blaze your way out the front door with blasterfire, you're now the target of a city wide manhunt.

Not such a trivial roll now, huh?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Desslok said:

Or lets say that you're just charming the bartender for no good reason other than perhaps making her forget your bar tab and slip you her com number. A roll against her discipline - oh, lets call it two reds and a purple, since she has to deal with a TON of drunk idiots on a nightly basis - comes up double despair. Oh, did I say she was a bartender? No, she was really a undercover cop on a sting and you just happened to hit on the codephrase that the contact looking to buy 500 kilos of Death Sticks was suppose to use. She gives the surveillance van outside the high sign, the vice squad busts in on a raid, and after you and your friends blaze your way out the front door with blasterfire, you're now the target of a city wide manhunt.

Not such a trivial roll now, huh?

I love it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As others have said, the prevalence of the use of a particular skill depends on a combination of player initiative and GM game planning.

When a player generates their character, they are telling the GM what kind of game they want to play. If I have a player that has invested in Survival there are going to be wilderness encounters, or tracking someone across soot covered rooftops in the industrial district, or a couple of riding beasts to be tamed at a crucial moment. A character that focused on Knowledge skills will be needed to research the site of an ancient battle where the McGuffin was lost, or to impress the haughty majordomo who can schedule a meeting with the sub-regent, or to decipher the odd bloody scrawl in an obscure Nikto dialect written on the floor near the murder victim.

More experienced players will be looking for opportunities to use the skills at which their characters excel. Everything looks like a nail to a hammer, and the Infiltrator will always want to Skulduggery her way through the back door.  

Also, I make it a point to feature skills that my players haven't taken ranks in. Not constantly, but perhaps once or twice a session. Sometimes succeeding on the Leadership roll to rally the spice miners against the Aqualish guards is the most memorable moment of the session - and failing the roll can be just as much fun.

whafrog likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To answer directly, our players and GM actively find ways to utilize EVERYTHING remotely related to our personality/career because of the excitement it creates. I could list times, ways, and reasons for every skill, but that would be boring. I would recommend encouraging your group to utilize their skills more effectively and have consequences related to a kill-everything-on-sight play style.
Decided to kill the shady dealer for that important ship part? Great! The Empire AND the organization they were attached to are actively hunting you down and no one in the underworld will deal with you or direct you to those in the know because you are an active threat to them by even being around.

I can't really add more than that or to what anyone else has added.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's also the issue of how many of the PCs use a particular skill. In combat, almost everyone benefits from having ranks in one or more combat skills, but rarely does more than one character really need skill in Astrogation or most of the Knowledge skills. Oddly enough, the "passive" skills like Resilience and Discipline are the ones where it is most necessary for everyone to have ranks of their own since these tests usually hit everyone individually. 

Geodes, SFC Snuffy and whafrog like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now