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Stacie_GmrGrl

Skills weirdness in Genesys

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Can you remove Leadership? it’s great as an independent skill, but it can be covered with the 4 other social skills just fine. (Your directing those troops, is it an aggressive order with Coercion? Or are you relying on your close friendship and therefore charm?)

Computers can go, it’s unnecessary in fantasy or steampunk!

Do you need all the combat skills? Can it just be Brawl, Melee & Ranged? Or even Hand to Hand & Ranged? Probably not but it depends on your group and how much they love Combat.

Do you need Resilience? It’s an often underused skill anyway, can that be covered by Athletics?

There’s Ride/Drive/Pilot/Operate, do you need all of them? Survival was used for riding animals in Star Wars, so Ride can go. Drive and Pilot are really the same thing with different sized vehicles, I say drop Pilot. That leaves you with Drive for small vehicles and Operate for big ones, an Agility and an Intellect skill, with Survival using Cunning being the animal riding skill.

 

 

Thats 6 skills that can be condensed and removed if needed.

Streetwise is a neat skill, and definitely can be different to Knowledge of the Underworld, but it doesn’t have to be. But that’s really just moving one skill to another if you don’t already have a Knowledge Underworld skill

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Another option to keep Mechanics as is but also emphasize the different disciplines within it is to use liberal setback dice and perhaps add talents to let PCs specialize. So, for instance, if the PC's backstory is that she has been part of a siege weapons team for five years, she can use Mechanics to fashion and repair catapults and trebuchets with no problem. If she's called upon to fix a horse cart or wagon, maybe that's OK, too, since the pieces are similar to those used in siege weapons. However, if she finds herself called upon to fix the mainsail on a clipper, she's facing multiple setbacks due to unfamiliarity. She'll face even more if she and her buddies have to craft a clipper from scratch. These familiarity penalties can only be overcome through narrative justification, like she spends the time between two adventures training with a shipwright.

Alternatively, introduce a talent to your game: Mechanics Specialization. Tier 1. Each time you take it, your character is considered proficient in that particular branch of engineering and suffers no penalties to craft or repair items of that type (save normal ones, like lack of tools or environmental effects). It's essentially the same solution as above, but you've put a small XP price on it. The PC can then continue to take extra levels of Mechanics Specialization at higher Tiers, adding 1 (maybe 2) specializations per rank.

Edited by SavageBob

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15 hours ago, Stacie_GmrGrl said:

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. 

You can swap out the three magic skills for yours.

You don't need Astrocartography. Depending on the role of computers in a steampunk setting, the Automata skill might substitute for Computers, and depending on what vehicles can be flown, Aethertech might substitute for Pilot and/or Operating. Plus, you are scrapping Mechanics for the subskills you mention (Alchemy plus the 5 above). 

You can add Discipline to Resilience if the horror in your setting is minimal. Arguably you could combine Athletics and Coordination.

The book suggests folding Riding into Survival, so if you can't envision using the former, make that change. Maybe make the same calculation with Driving (treat carriages as Riding and Steamtech for powered cars).

Likewise, you can go with Melee as a single skill, removing the Light & Heavy subskills. Decide whether enough of your vehicles have weapons that would require the Gunnery skill.

Theoretically, that's up to twelve skills you can drop - a net of seven, given the replacements for Mechanics.

 

Edited by player966703

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On 3/31/2018 at 10:59 PM, sfRattan said:

The more changes you make to the skill list, the less compatible your stuff will be with what other people are making and sharing.

I agree, but on the other hand, no games master runs Rules As Written the same way.  In your game you may require a skill roll for something I feel doesn't need one and vice versa.  You share with the open mind that people will change what you've written to suit their game, gaming style and sometimes simply because it makes sense to them to change what doesn't make sense (to them).

Take magic for instance.  Your game may or may not include all of these types of magic (you may not even agree with the simple definitions or categories):

  • Sorcery
    • Uses a grimoire of some sort (runes can be grimoires), requires study
  • Animism
    • Uses Animal and Nature spirits, shamanism
  • Deism
    • Power comes the worship of a god/goddess, or god-like being, Clerics
  • Mysticism
    • Usually a Martial Art, Kung Fu, Walk on water, Super Jumps, Iron Skin, etc.
  • Alchemy
    • Use chemicals to create magic or magic like effects
  • Elementalist
    • Control of the elemental forces like Fire, Earth, Air, Water, Wood, Stone, etc.
  • Hedge Magic
    • Minor magical effects, Sharpen Blade, Light Fires, Ventriloquism, etc.

As you can already see, you're going to change this list even if I put it out there as "written in stone".  Every suggestion I've seen so far is valid and will work for some and not for others.  I think it's completely natural for our games not to be compatible with each other.  Understanding how flexible Genesys  is and that they continually repeat the phrase "home brew" is enough for me.  If that means a whole new skills list, then have at it!  I think it's amazing what the community has come up with so far and will continue to change and evolve! Awesome...:)

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18 hours ago, Stacie_GmrGrl said:

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. 

Ahh that old "this generic setting isn't applicable to my game without work" argument.  The answer to your quandary likely falls to finding the lowest common denominator between all settings and just present that for the sake of page count.    I doubt anyone out there has picked up this book and thought, "I'm going to use this just as it is!"

 

I can see how your suggestions would be an improvement, and I encourage you to write them up and share them!  

 

 

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As someone coming from a system that had a TON of skill bloat, I kinda feel the OP here.

 

Reading through the Genesys skills I’m always simultaneously really happy that Genesys pairs down some of the ridiculous granularity of some systems…right up until I run up against something like Mechanics or Knowledge (probably the biggest offenders) where they’re so broad you could simultaneously run an oxcart and an FTL-enabled space missile through them at the same time. Which is…problematic, to say the least, as I want characters to feel distinct and special and those skills are so common and universal in their application.

 

The solution I came up with (with my admittedly limited experience with the system—only played a few games) was making players tell me where they learned each of their skills and trying to make a determination from there whether a given application of a skill made sense. But then giving players a chance to augment those defined parameters with story points.

 

So, for instance, I have a character in my fantasy game that’s kind of a Ranger/Explorer type. Part of their backstory was that they learned their skills from their father, who made a living as a guide to groups traveling through the wilderness. It made sense, then, that part of that training was use of a longbow (the character’s primary weapon) and, in turn, proficiency in the Ranged (Heavy) skill.

 

But when this same character got their hands on a comparatively rare dwarven, breach-loading rifle that they would have realistically never even seen let alone been trained in, I ruled that they couldn’t use their Ranged (Heavy) skill to operate it because it was so different than the longbows and similar weapons they were proficient in. Rather, it would be a straight, unskilled Agility test.

 

However, wanting to give the player some agency, I said that the rifle was similar enough to crossbows that they had at least some experience with that I would allow them to spend a story point to treat all tests with the rifle in a given encounter as if they were trained in its use (as opposed to a single upgrade on a single test). Furthermore, I gave the player a one-time opportunity, right then, to spend 3 story points to permanently amend their backstory to include an anecdote on how they were trained in dwarven rifles and so allow them to use such weapons as they would any tool they were proficient in.

 

That worked out well for us and the whole table was engaged. 3 story points were the players’ entire pool at the time. But that gun was better than what they had and an investment in the future. They would always get the story points back, after all, and this was a one-time opportunity. And the player had fun coming up with a story to tell the table about how as a kid he had helped his father act as a guide to a party of dwarven big game hunters that had taken a liking to him and shown him how to shoot.  

 

I see no reason why a similar system wouldn’t work for any of those broad skills, with the GM assigning a one-time story point cost based on how “off-label” the use is for the character’s backstory. I would probably keep it as a “now or never” decision for the players, though, so it feels like a special moment and not something they can just change their mind on later. And it's also a great use for story points, which I think are hard for some people (myself very much included) to get their head around using in ways that are more creative than simply upgrading dice but also aren't broken ("of course I packed the thermonuclear detonator!"). 

Edited by JonofPDX

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18 hours ago, JonofPDX said:

Reading through the Genesys skills I’m always simultaneously really happy that Genesys pairs down some of the ridiculous granularity of some systems…right up until I run up against something like Mechanics or Knowledge (probably the biggest offenders) where they’re so broad you could simultaneously run an oxcart and an FTL-enabled space missile through them at the same time. Which is…problematic, to say the least, as I want characters to feel distinct and special and those skills are so common and universal in their application.

That is the problem with scoping the skills too broadly - Star Wars suffers from that too, albeit to a lesser degree.  I believe it's perfectly reasonable for one to draw a distinction between firearms and bows, for example, if it suits what is going on at the table.  Similarly Charm could be broken up, if that fits the flavor of the story.  

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The skills are somewhat basic just to be a base. There is no problem to remove one or more, create one or more... this could cause a small problem to conversion third party content but I don't think it's a really problem. Just convert like you did.

People usually assume that the systems are always perfectly balanced and smooth. This isn't true for a lot of reasons. They are balanced and ready to work well, just it. There are always problems or limitations.

It's why people create house rules, it's why there are guys who can create combos, it's why people change between the systems...

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There are a lot of RPG's in the world, and that means a lot of skill lists, so I thought why not just pick the best? I use a skill list from a different system and just tie it to the obvious attribute.

I also removed then replaced all the talents...because they were too video gamey, but thats just for setting and taste. I realize Genesys is meant for 90's action movie type play, but the core mechanisms work wonderfully for giving you the gritty simulation feeling without all the bloated moving parts of something like GURPS.

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37 minutes ago, Souppilgrim said:

There are a lot of RPG's in the world, and that means a lot of skill lists, so I thought why not just pick the best? I use a skill list from a different system and just tie it to the obvious attribute.

What do you consider to be the best skill list?

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1 hour ago, Bellyon said:

What do you consider to be the best skill list?

The campaign I've been running for 2 years (we used homebrewed WFRP 3rd, now Genesys) is set in the Warhammer world, so for this game it was the list from WFRP 2nd but slightly modified. We got rid of dodge blow, for example, because that was specific to the core combat rules in that game.

My use of a different list, isn't a dig at Genesys, I actually think its a good, almost great list, just that it's one of the easiest things to change. I've been in to many campaigns where the list is too big and about 30-40% of all skills listed will NEVER be used in game so they turn out to be a trap...just wasted advancement, and I've also played games where the list is so small that a party of 3 people can do literally everything with a high degree of competence...which isn't optimal either. Many people in this thread have made good defenses of the Genesys list, but the fact remains, I myself, had to take time and re-read some of the skills in Genesys multiple times to remember how and when they should be used....so if the OP and their group is having trouble with cool, discipline, vigilance, etc, merge or change them or use a list from a different game that is appropriate for your setting.

*edit* To clarify, I think that if you try to explain why Willpower is an attribute, Discipline and Cool are skills, and why each of those things are exactly what they are and when to use them, it gets more murky than I would like. IMHO Willpower covers both of the things the skills do, where something like strength(brawn) is easy to see separate from athletics.

Edited by Souppilgrim

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1 hour ago, Souppilgrim said:

*edit* To clarify, I think that if you try to explain why Willpower is an attribute, Discipline and Cool are skills, and why each of those things are exactly what they are and when to use them, it gets more murky than I would like. IMHO Willpower covers both of the things the skills do, where something like strength(brawn) is easy to see separate from athletics.

This is one of the reasons why I had some problems with one member of this forum, in the topic of Lord of the Rings. While they think elfs have a superior Willpower, I think that they haven't, and Willpower would be the 1 stat to balance.

What's the point here: I think elves there have a lot of Discipline, not Willpower. Willpower, as a base stat, can influence few skills, while an specific skill is a particular use of that biological capacity of the character.

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1 hour ago, Bellyon said:

This is one of the reasons why I had some problems with one member of this forum, in the topic of Lord of the Rings. While they think elfs have a superior Willpower, I think that they haven't, and Willpower would be the 1 stat to balance.

What's the point here: I think elves there have a lot of Discipline, not Willpower. Willpower, as a base stat, can influence few skills, while an specific skill is a particular use of that biological capacity of the character.

That's a good description of the difference between Discipline and Willpower. Cool and discipline are harder to separate, not impossible but harder. Examples from the book, from both Cool and Discipline descriptions 1. "Your character tries to keep their sanity in the face of something that defies reality and rational thought." 2. " Your character needs to keep their nerve in a tense situation..." 3. " Your character needs to stay calm and unaffected when being flattered or charmed by someone." <--- I can see many people forgetting which one goes with which skill/attribute combo.

I believe some of this arises because the skill list in Genesys is really a comprehensive list of things you roll dice for. Resilience as a skill? Resilience is really a mechanism for testing endurance or constitution, but it is in a list of "skills" like Medicine, because they needed a way to cover a traditional con check. So Disc and Cool might exist because having 1 skill cover so many things for an RPG was too powerful of a skill, and they had to split it.

Again, not a bash, I'd rather play 100% as written from the Genesys book than D&D, Pathfinder, Gurps, Fate, Dungeon World etc

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@Stacie_GmrGrl

Much agreed, on Cool and Discipline particularly. "Defensive skills" are a design outlier as it is, and the fuzzy, idiosyncratic definition between the two doesn't give players or GMs much else than quoting the rulebook.

I dropped Cool, giving Discipline a lot more room for composure/fear mastery/focus. I also have social skills opposed by the same skill, which is way more intuitive while it doubles options for players. Vigilance justifies itself as the sole initiative factor, with some value as passive physical awareness.

Definitely, take other perspectives into consideration, but you are onto something in noticing the awkward overlap.

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On 4/7/2018 at 1:27 PM, wilsch said:

@Stacie_GmrGrl

Much agreed, on Cool and Discipline particularly. "Defensive skills" are a design outlier as it is, and the fuzzy, idiosyncratic definition between the two doesn't give players or GMs much else than quoting the rulebook.

I dropped Cool, giving Discipline a lot more room for composure/fear mastery/focus. I also have social skills opposed by the same skill, which is way more intuitive while it doubles options for players. Vigilance justifies itself as the sole initiative factor, with some value as passive physical awareness.

Definitely, take other perspectives into consideration, but you are onto something in noticing the awkward overlap.

I agree completely regarding Cool and Discipline, although there are those who feel the distinction is clear and intuitive.  YMMV I guess.  I've been toying with calling them "Composure" and still making them Presence based.

I would also roll Negotiation and Charm together, calling them "Persuasion".  Negotiation is a specific subset of Charm in my mind.

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On 4/7/2018 at 10:27 AM, wilsch said:

 but you are onto something in noticing the awkward overlap.

That is one way to look at it, certainly.  Given it's spread across skills of many disciplines, I feel like the intent was to provide players with more that one path to get to the end goal.  

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58 minutes ago, themensch said:

That is one way to look at it, certainly.  Given it's spread across skills of many disciplines, I feel like the intent was to provide players with more that one path to get to the end goal.  

Agreed. There are often more than one way to get something accomplished in Genesys (and Star Wars), so some of the overlap is intentional to allow for different approaches to get at the same end. This allows more types of characters to be useful in more types of situations, since you don't always have to rely on that one skill. In the same vein, it ensures that the various attributes get equal weight in when they and their skills get called upon in an adventure.

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Came here from search, wanted to tag @dresdinseven with my own answer to the Mechanics skill: I use Threat to activate secondary rolls. So you generate some Successes and Threat while you're rolling Mechanics to...

  • Repair some Cybernetic parts? The part is repaired (can't negate the success!), but you better roll Medicine if you don't want to inflict a Critical Injury on your patient.
  • Rig some Demolition equipment? The bomb is set! But you got some reagent in your gloves. Can your Science (Knowledge whatever) help you figure out the appropriate solvent?
  • Upgrade some Hardware? It's ten times as fast as it was. Roll Computers to make sure you backed everything up before you nuked the drive.
  • Tune the Vehicle? I actually tend to leave that one alone.

 

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On ‎4‎/‎2‎/‎2018 at 6:54 PM, Stacie_GmrGrl said:

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.

I'm very late to the show, but you might be interested in a house rule I've been toying with for a homebrew setting that has some "fantasy steampunky" elements also.

I've added "Familiarities" for some skills. Some skills have an Unfamiliar penalty for their use (penalty varies, typically a Setback or Difficulty increase) unless you are Familiar with the appropriate subcategory of the skill. Familiarities are new talents that can be purchased. For example, for Mechanics there are a quite a few Familiarities including: Shipwright, Engineer, Armorer, Bowyer, Gunsmith, Weaponsmith, etc. If you use Mechanics to do something simple like fix a common tool, there is no Familiarity requirement. But, if you use Mechanics to try to fix your set of Plate armor, you have to add 1 Difficulty unless you have the Armorer talent.

It may not be for everyone, but it has fixed some of the similar issues I share with you. With Familiarities I can differentiate better between a shipwright and blacksmith even though they are using the same skill (Mechanics) while not adding to skill bloat.

Edited by Sturn

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In my Star Trek game I just launched I busted Medicine, Mechanics, and Computers into 3 separate skills.  More or less researching, building, and fixing, sorta, there is some differences but that was the basic idea.

Edited by 2P51

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I agree some skills are very narrow, like Vigilance and Cool which seem like they should fall under Perception and Discipline respectivly.

I have just accepted it is for game balance so as not to make certain skills too powerful. Perception (and skills like it) already gets a lot of use in most any RPG or setting for example, it would be overkill to also have it be your initiative AND the skill used to tell when people are lying or being dishonest.

Another thing is Cool though. I have never been a fan of its primary use being as initiative when setting up ambushes. It makes it so there is practically no benefit using ambushes, either as a player or GM. To me it makes a lot more sense to give boost dice or impose Setback dice on those being ambushed.

I have not been able to figue out why the game needs two sepreate types of initiative, if there is some balance reason (like I mention with Perception) or something like that. So I would be happy if anyone could enlighten me?

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I swapped Stealth for Cool for ambush checks. The way I run ambushes is the ambusher uses Stealth on the Simple initiative check, the ambushee uses Vigilance and they roll against a Difficulty based on range and then potentially modified further. Typically means the ambusher will all be going first for the fight, which I'm fine with since most will be @$$ over tea kettle when they're attacked out of the blue. The character with crazy Vigilance might 'win' sometimes, gives them that Spiderman vibe...

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On 10/13/2018 at 8:53 PM, Barl said:

I agree some skills are very narrow, like Vigilance and Cool which seem like they should fall under Perception and Discipline respectivly.

I have just accepted it is for game balance so as not to make certain skills too powerful. Perception (and skills like it) already gets a lot of use in most any RPG or setting for example, it would be overkill to also have it be your initiative AND the skill used to tell when people are lying or being dishonest.

Another thing is Cool though. I have never been a fan of its primary use being as initiative when setting up ambushes. It makes it so there is practically no benefit using ambushes, either as a player or GM. To me it makes a lot more sense to give boost dice or impose Setback dice on those being ambushed.

I have not been able to figue out why the game needs two sepreate types of initiative, if there is some balance reason (like I mention with Perception) or something like that. So I would be happy if anyone could enlighten me?

Vigilance is supposed to be passive. While perception is active. But the 2 skills are much broader then just initiativ. 

 

Cool has many other uses beside initiativ. Its a great social skill basicly your pokerface. While Vigilance is opposed to deception in social encounters not perception. 

 

For initiativ its clever planning vs spidersense instinct reaktion. 

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