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Stacie_GmrGrl

Skills weirdness in Genesys

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Am I the only one who thinks that the skills list has a lot of weird overlap in parts, especially the skills Cool, Discipline and Vigilance. Which thematically are nearly identical with slivers of difference.

Or that we have a single skill that could legitimately be split up into separate skills, like Mechanics... Because it makes a lot of sense to have a single skill to represent all forms of crafting and machinery work... except for Alchemy. 

The chosen default skills is not a great list of skills. We have 5 social interaction skills that could, like Mechanics, be ubiquitous as a single skill called Interaction or Manipulation. But there isn't an Intimidation skill either.

To me, this is a weak point of the game. Where all these thematically fit Star Wars and the Star Wars system of Profession and Specialization Trees... The same skills list doesn't work as well with a generic game and no Specializations to really distinguish them from each other.

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Coercion is Intimidation. 

Cool is generally used in Social encounters, Discipline and Vigilance in Combat encounters.

Charm, Leadership, and Deception are all very different things.

I could go on about all the ways I disagree with you. However, that doesn’t really matter, because the system is specifically designed to be modified. Don’t like all the different social skills? Change it! Think Mechanics should be multiple skills? Do it! Genesys is specifically created to be modified. So if you really have such strong ideas about it, then modify it! That’s what the system is built for.

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I disagree categorically on every point, except for the Mechanics one. Sorry.

I like how social skills are split several different ways; many other systems I've seen have one 'offensive' social skill and one 'defensive' social skill, so when you want to make a social character, you have exactly one option. In Genesys, you've got several offense and defense skills, which means there are numerous options for players to design their social characters. I mean, most games dedicate a half dozen or more skill options for combat, why can't the realm of social interaction have more than one way of doing things?

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Distinguishing among these various skills has been part of the chatter about this system since it was just for Star Wars. I'd suggest doing a forum search on "Cool vs. Discipline" or "Charm vs. Negotiation" etc. for a full breakdown of the various ways people distinguish these skills from one another. But, yeah, at the end of the day, this is a system meant to be tinkered with, as Johan suggested. Change these skills if they don't work for you!

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Cool is external self control, composure, and the ability to keep calm. Discipline is internal self control, mental force of will, and the ability to resist compulsions. Broadly related, but also distinct enough to warrant separate skills and more than a sliver of difference.

Vigilance is passive alertness to threats, things which are out of place, and sudden movements or changes. It is closer to Perception than it is to either Cool or Discipline, and the relation between Vigilance and Perception (passive vs. active) is different from the one between Cool and Discipline (external vs. internal).

The assumptions in your post about skill definitions do not match what is written in the core rulebook.

9 hours ago, Stacie_GmrGrl said:

Where all these thematically fit Star Wars and the Star Wars system of Profession and Specialization Trees... The same skills list doesn't work as well with a generic game and no Specializations to really distinguish them from each other.

What? I'm having some trouble making sense of that reasoning.

Careers and Specializations had nothing to do with the definition of the skills themselves... They merely established which skills you could buy at a discount. Skills were not distinguished from each other by Specializations; they were distinguished from each other by their definitions in the skills chapters of the three SWRPG core books. And, though I'd say that the skills chapters for those books were a mess of inconsistent recommendations for interpreting specific dice results, the skills chapter in Genesys stood out to me as one of the larger improvements moving away from SWRPG.

In particular, the way the skill chapter follows the pattern of "when to use" and "when not to use" each skill clearly delineates the skills and distinguishes their scopes from each other. It may well be that you don't like those scopes and, as others have said, that's fine. There is detailed advice in the Game Master's Toolkit section of the core rulebook for modifying, adding to, and removing from the skill list. It seems like the designers intended for game masters to hack the skill list if the setting calls for it.

Edited by sfRattan

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I still stick with how they feel to me. Cool, Discipline and Vigilance are too similar to each other IMO. I read those and I can interpret any situation where one works in my mind with any of the other two. 

If you're Vigilant you have a mental fortitude and discipline to remain cool in pressure situations. Likewise, as a Vigilant person you can have a strong mental awareness to be perceptive about your surroundings and be able to resist mental intrusions. 

That's how I interpret the skills based on the very specific names used for the three skills. 

I'll concede to being wrong about the social skills though.

Edited by Stacie_GmrGrl

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We may be at a place in English language where these words have converged a bit in their casual use. People use "envy" and "jealously" interchangeably even though the former is resentful desire for what someone else has (e.g. a man is envious of his neighbor's Porsche) and the latter is fear of losing something you already have (e.g. a dragon jealously guards her hoard of treasure). There might be something similar going on with (keeping your) cool, discipline, and vigilance. I don't know. I'm doubtful that's the case with these three words.

Imagine a gambler who has a perfect poker face (good Cool) and yet cannot bring himself to get up and leave the table because he's "on a lucky streak" (poor Discipline), and also may or may not notice the player across from him has marked the cards (uncertain Vigilance). Or a baseball player who paces nervously in the dugout (poor Cool) but, when at bat, sees the pitch coming outside the strike zone (good Vigilance), and doesn't swing at the bad pitch, earning ball one (good Discipline).

The three skills, especially as they are defined in the skills chapter, don't really have overlap in any situation I can imagine.

Edited by sfRattan

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14 hours ago, Stacie_GmrGrl said:

Or that we have a single skill that could legitimately be split up into separate skills, like Mechanics... Because it makes a lot of sense to have a single skill to represent all forms of crafting and machinery work... except for Alchemy. 

100% agree with the Mechanics Skill, it's an absolute mess of "do anything with objects" while some of the other skills are oddly granular.  As someone who plays the "tech" character I found it was actually taxing because I had to do -everything- that wasn't interacting with another character.  Open a door? Me. Disable a bomb? Me. Fix the ship? Me. Mess with upgrading gear? Me. On and on and on, I suddenly was the expert of every technical field and type of engineering imaginable.  And I could never sit in one spot and do my "thing" because I had to be the swiss army knife in five different places. It was exhausting.

And it's awful for character concept. As the skill goes up, there's no real difference between a ship engineer, a cybernetics expert, demolitions dude, or any type of tech.  Because everyone could just do everyone else's job.  Sure there were Talents to spice it up, but no way to dive deep into a particular 'specialty'. But eventually the car mechanic or security systems expert turns to mush because you're the only one who can do the task at the moment even if it's completely alien to your core character concept.

That's just my rant on the Mechanics skill. I understand why it's like that, but it really rustles my jimmies.. I did think of a few talents to alleviate the problem, if anyone is interested.

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2 hours ago, Stacie_GmrGrl said:

If you're Vigilant you have a mental fortitude and discipline to remain cool in pressure situations. Likewise, as a Vigilant person you can have a strong mental awareness to be perceptive about your surroundings and be able to resist mental intrusions. 

 

Think of it this way. My dog is vigilant, but she isn't disciplined. She can detect the slightest sound coming up the driveway (and will bark at it), but she can't resist eating something that falls on the ground. In other words, Vigilance is about passive awareness rather than mental fortitude.

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8 hours ago, Stacie_GmrGrl said:

That's how I interpret the skills based on the very specific names used for the three skills.

It seems that you are taking issue with your own (and perhaps correct) definition of these words and how such definitions don't match with the way they are defined in the CRB. These words are merely labels for conveying in-game concepts, Genesys/FFG are not attempting to redefine these words. If you take exception to the names of the skills, change them to Level Headed, Focused, and Awareness or whatever strikes your fancy to better reflect the effect of each skill.

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On 2018-03-29 at 12:29 PM, Stacie_GmrGrl said:

I still stick with how they feel to me. Cool, Discipline and Vigilance are too similar to each other IMO. I read those and I can interpret any situation where one works in my mind with any of the other two. 

In the Star Wars game these skills are clearly different.  Cool and Vigilance are used in ambushes:  Cool is for the ambushers, and represents their ability to stay calm, not jump the gun, not get bored and start making fart noises that crack the rest of the team up; Vigilance is for the target, and represents how aware they are to changes in their surroundings.  I like that these are different, and can be developed differently, they really add in a meaningful way to a character's strengths and weaknesses.

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Splitting hairs already? Part of the reason you have examples of game settings is to show that you are free to add, remove, modify and expand any and all skills ad infinitum.  Want to add Intimidation based on Brawn or Presence? Go ahead and do it, you won't break the system. As with all games, adjust as you will, but my advice is to keep the number of available skills down to a minimum. That's me. Keep it simple, concentrate on story. If you just want to use an opposed presence roll for intimidation, that also works equally well.

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On 30/03/2018 at 6:21 AM, dresdinseven said:

That's just my rant on the Mechanics skill. I understand why it's like that, but it really rustles my jimmies.. I did think of a few talents to alleviate the problem, if anyone is interested.

How would you split it? Or fix it? I was thinking at least to split the skill into:

Alchemy;  the blending of materials to make a useful product

Art; making something new as an expression of yourself for the enjoyment of others

Build; construction of large projects, buildings and boats mostly 

Craft; the making of personal items, from blacksmithing through to pottery.

Cook; the preparation of food

 

 

on that matter what skill would people use for creating Art in a normal game?

Edited by Richardbuxton

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1 hour ago, Richardbuxton said:

How would you split it? Or fix it? I was thinking at least to split the skill into:

It ultimately depends on the setting, tone, and several other questions about the type of game you want to run. I always ask, "will this particular skill ever get used often in a way that has dramatic stakes for both success and failure?" If yes, make it a skill, or split it off from another skill! But if no, find a simpler way to represent it that doesn't create an unused XP sinkhole that could frustrate the players.

Is cooking a meal ever going to have dramatic stakes? In a survival oriented campaign with resources tracked very carefully, definitely. In many other games, no.

Is making a particular kind of art going to have dramatic stakes? Maybe, if part of your party's art heist involves replacing a painting or sculpture with a forgery. Most of the time, though, I'd represent artistic skill as Coordination remixed with either Intellect, Cunning, or Presence (instead of Agility).

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Just to add one more deviation. 

Engineering (Electronics), Engineering  (FTL Drives), Engineering (Cybernetics), Engineering  (Biotechnology).

If it fits your campaign, you could use any skill you'd like to expand by placing the particular field if study in parentheses.  In your homebrew this would put limits on what you could actually accomplish.  The above skills would fit nicely in a Firefly campaign...

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So I'd like to propose the synthesis of two ideas for skills like Mechanics or Computers, where there are a number of subdomains. We have the "Knack for It" Talent (Genesys CRB, p.73), which removes 2 Setback dice when a particular skill is used, and we have the principle of "Right Tools for the Job" (Genesys CRB, p.93), which allows a character with the right gear to either attempt something they otherwise couldn't or add a Boost die to that attempt.

Something similar can be done for domains of skill which require a certain floor of expertise to even attempt. Specifically:

Technical Know-How

Tier 1. Passive. Ranked.

When you purchase this talent for your character, your character may attempt tasks within a chosen domain, using skills appropriate to that domain.

Each time you purchase this talent for your character, select an additional domain.

Technical Know-How (Improved)

Tier 2. Passive. Ranked.

When making use of Technical Know-How within a domain, your character may remove up to 2 Setback dice from checks made using skills appropriate to that domain.

Each time you purchase this talent for your character, select an additional domain.

Technical Know-How (Supreme)

Tier 3. Passive. Ranked.

When making use of Technical Know-How within a domain, your character may remove all Setback dice from checks made using skills appropriate to that domain. In addition, your character may suffer 2 Strain to add a Boost die to the same check.

Each time you purchase this talent for your character, select an additional domain.

What's implicit here is that, for a given setting, specific domain uses of skills like Mechanics or Computers automatically have some Setback dice assigned to them (e.g. Biotechnology, Electronics Engineering, Network Security, or something else). Rather than have a proliferation of many, many more skills, you have a family of 3 adaptable talents with the flexibility of "Knack for It" which allow GMs and players to (more or less ad-hoc) make certain fields more restricted to someone without formal training or acquired expertise.

The scope of what's in a domain is totally up to the GM and/or the players interpreting the setting to decide what's appropriate. Talents are further away from the moving parts at the core of Genesys, and seem to me a better place to add this kind of detail when desired. The more changes you make to the skill list, the less compatible your stuff will be with what other people are making and sharing.

Edited by sfRattan

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6 hours ago, Richardbuxton said:

How would you split it? Or fix it? I was thinking at least to split the skill

Instead of adding to the skill list my suggestion is a talent set that has the player pick a specialization or subset of Mechanics. Each rank would add a boost dice and a benefit.

Quote

Tech Specialist

  • Tier 1
  • Unranked
  • Choose one specific application of the Mechanics skill, such as Cybernetics, Demolitions, Electronic Hardware, Metalworking, Security and Surveillance Systems, Vehicle [Pilot, Drive, or Operate].  Add one [[Boost Dice]] to any Mechanics checks they make which relates to their chosen specific application.
Quote

Tech Specialist, Resourceful

  • Tier 2
  • Prerequisite: Tech Specialist
  • Unranked
  • Add an additional [[Boost dice]] to any Mechanics checks they make which relates to their chosen specific application.  Additionally, if lacking the proper tools for the job the player can always find or improvise what they need, unless the GM spends a Story Point.
Quote

Tech Specialist, Efficient

  • Tier 2
  • Prerequisite: Tech Specialist
  • Unranked
  • Add an additional [[Boost dice]] to any Mechanics checks they make which relates to their chosen specific application.  Reduce the time to complete the task by 25%.
Quote

Tech Specialist, Disciplined

  • Tier 3
  • Prerequisite: Tech Specialist
  • Unranked
  • Add an additional [[Boost dice]] to any Mechanics checks they make which relates to their chosen specific application.  Additionally, the character may spend 2 strain and add a [[Boost dice]] during any Mechanics check.

This let's characters have a "deep dive" into a specialty while still allowing a the character to become a Swiss army knife if desired. Also it allows characters without Mechanics as a career skill to get some boost or cheaper faux ranks related to their character concept  (like hackers getting computer hardware or pilots/captains getting the appropriate vehicle class).

Unsure of the Disciplined version. Any feedback is aplreciated. I feel strongly about these talents because they keep skill bloat down while helping to define character concepts.

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I agree that there is weird overlap, but sometimes that makes sense in games. For one thing, you don't want a situation where only one skill can move the plot forward, and for whatever reason the PC who has it is unavailable.

If you pare down the list of skills, be wary about PCs looking too much like one another. Also, at some point the amount of build points needs to be reduced to compensate for the loss of choice.

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13 hours ago, Richardbuxton said:

Alchemy;  the blending of materials to make a useful product

Cook; the preparation of food

Why would you decouple those two, I wonder. I would surmise cooking is the sub-discipline of alchemy blending materials to make an 1) edible/potable and 2) nourishing, thus useful, product

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It was mainly because a cook generally isn’t an alchemist. Cook probably isn’t that useful in most games anyway, and can likely be covered under a general tradesmen skill

Just changing Mechanics to Craft and Build probably fixes a lot, since it seperates the construction of castles and space ships from the fletching of an arrow.

In a way I’m looking for the Ride/Drive/Pilot/Operate of making and fixing things. Obviously every setting should be different, especially when it’s fantasy vs future. 

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I don't really like the name for Cool, but mechanically I have zero issues with how those skills are split up.

How conversely there are several skills far too broad for comfort but the book only goes a bit into splitting up Knowledge, however, does indeed bother me. (Skulduggery hasn't been mentioned yet - picking pockets and picking locks for instance are two very different skill sets.) Extrapolating from this isn't exactly rocket science, but I think there should be more guidance.

And treating Gunnery (i.e. manning cannons and catapults) as a sub-skill of Ranged (i.e. shooting handheld weapons) makes less sense than treating Brawl as a sub-skill of Melee, yet they do the former and not the latter. Also, any and all settings with remotely reasonable depth should always distinguish between light and heavy weapons of both Ranged and Melee. And of course the classic trope of linking Melee to Brawn/Strength and Ranged to Agility/Dexterity in all circumstances makes my skin crawl.

On a related note, Prone should be reworked to provide bonuses and maluses depending on range bands, not combat skills. And slightly going off on a tangent here, but maces aren't given their proper due once again - they should have Pierce 1 and probably damage +4 instead of +3 while swords should probably have damage +2 instead of +3, which in turn might be grounds for adjusting greatswords, greataxes and halberds a bit, buth with their various other characteristics they don't feel too off.

Similarly, the description of leather armor "whether soft or boiled and hardened" makes me want to bang my head against a wall repeatedly. As usual for RPGs, armors in general are too weak while bodies can take too much damage, which I guess kind of balances out, so for some sense of believability within that stats range, I propose giving the stats for leather armor to gambesons and treating boiled leather like heavy robes and soft leather just like normal clothes.

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I find Perception and Vigilance somewhat repetitive, but at the end of the day one need only throw out Webster's and not dwell on exact definitions of the words, and simply use them for the suggested scenarios and situations.

I do agree the technical skills could use some distinction added to them.  I intend to have Mechanics and Engineering for example, Mechanics = fix broken ****, Engineering = tweak or build new ****.

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I get that in your settings you can change, add, or even completely redo the skills list completely. It just stinks that this list of skills in the core rules, of which there is about 35 to 37 (depending on how you want to break them down) is a rather bad list of skills. Just IMHO I say this. Its a functional one, but it could have been a lot better. 

In my own fantasy steampunky setting, a setting that has distinctive crafting professions... The Mechanics skill fails as a catch-all. Aethertech, steamtach, alchemy, automata, bio-flux, armsmith, etc... These are distinctive skills. I'd want to make them important.

Magic is also distinctive but really comes down to Sorcery, Runes and Shamanism.

So I'd have to pare down the other skills somehow. And here I am a bit at a loss. 

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