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Thread: Knowledge Skills

  1. #1
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    Knowledge Skills

    We finished off our ST campaign and are starting up another (in the TOS era). As we were building characters, one player pointed out something that makes me think maybe I've been doing the Knowledge skills wrong the whole time.

    If I have Knowledge: Culture (Federation) 6 and buy a specialization of Knowledge: Culture (Klingon), do I get it at 6 skill ranks? Or at 1?

    I guess I've been treating them as Skill groups, but (at least within the same skill group) they should be treated as specialties like any other skill.
    Doug Taylor
    Member of Decipher's Hall of Fame
    Currently running The One Ring RPG. I also occasionally run Villains & Vigilantes (our campaign is in year 25) and WEG d6 Star Wars (both games are mostly on hiatus) and an annual game based on The X-Files (using Conspiracy X).

  2. #2
    You could make an argument either way.
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  3. #3
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    Yeah, as I think about skills like Specific World, it wouldn't make sense for a character with Specific World (Earth) at 6 skill ranks to be able to spend a single point and get Specific World (Vulcan) and have it at 6 ranks.
    Doug Taylor
    Member of Decipher's Hall of Fame
    Currently running The One Ring RPG. I also occasionally run Villains & Vigilantes (our campaign is in year 25) and WEG d6 Star Wars (both games are mostly on hiatus) and an annual game based on The X-Files (using Conspiracy X).

  4. #4
    Knowledge (Southern California) will cover you for most planets seen in the series...
    Portfolio | Blog Currently Running: Call of Cthulhu, Star Trek GUMSHOE Currently Playing: DramaSystem, Swords & Wizardry

  5. #5
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    The CODA Lord of the Rings: Paths of the Wise does a great job at fixing the Lore (Knowledge) skill groups, skills, and specialties.

    I suggest using these rules within the Trek genre as well, and so your Skill Group would be Knowledge: Specific World, your 6 ranks of skill are Earth, and specialties could range far and wide (I.e. geography, weather patterns, the Grand Canyon, rivers, oceans, etc.). This said, it doesn't include the planet Vulcan, so to get that you would need to start a complete new skill group:specific world skill.

    Make sense?

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  6. #6
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    I disagree, Tomcat. One point of a game system is to emulate, as best of possible, the feel of the characters of the universe in which it takes place. In this case, Starfleet characters have a broad range of knowledge, so skills are broad by nature, and specialties simply add to their test result.

    What you're suggesting is to change knowledge skills to make them different from every other skill in the game. Instead of a broad skill like "Knowledge of Cultures" (which would be similar in scope to a broad skill of "Propulsion Engineering"), you're saying that a character should only have "Knowledge of Earth Cultures." That would be like "23rd Century Starfleet Impulse Drive Engineering." It goes against the principle of broad knowledge and skill that is inherent to the Star Trek universe.
    Davy Jones

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sea Tyger View Post
    I disagree, Tomcat. One point of a game system is to emulate, as best of possible, the feel of the characters of the universe in which it takes place. In this case, Starfleet characters have a broad range of knowledge, so skills are broad by nature, and specialties simply add to their test result.

    What you're suggesting is to change knowledge skills to make them different from every other skill in the game. Instead of a broad skill like "Knowledge of Cultures" (which would be similar in scope to a broad skill of "Propulsion Engineering"), you're saying that a character should only have "Knowledge of Earth Cultures." That would be like "23rd Century Starfleet Impulse Drive Engineering." It goes against the principle of broad knowledge and skill that is inherent to the Star Trek universe.
    I am not 'suggesting' anything save for them to look at, and maybe apply, the rules of Lore and Knowledge that were updated by Decipher in the Lord of the Rings - Paths of the Wise. The information I gave above is how the skills of Lore and Language - or Knowledge and Language - can be approached.

    As to the rest of your reply, I have to disagree with you because the broad nature of skills that you speak of does not simulate a 'real' situation, no matter what the genre.

    Example - I have a relatively good knowledge of the planet Earth, having lived here for the better part of 40 years. I know languages, cultures, geography, Earth science, etc. So to put this in game terms and using Decipher's expanded rules, let's consider this:

    Knowledge: Specific World: Earth +6

    I know a lot more about Ohio, United State of America, etc. So again to apply the rules:

    Knowledge: Specific World: Earth [Ohio, US of A] +6

    So, as long it is in my field of rounded knowledge, I am adding a +8 to my dice roll.

    I know that Mars is a planet in our solar system. I know that Mars is dusty, dry, desolate, and red. I do not know geography, solar rotations, length of day, etc. So, my limited Knowledge of Mars does not STACK on my knowledge of Earth. So, to illustrate in game rules:

    Knowledge: Specific World: Mars [terrain] +2

    In this case, with my vague understanding of Mars, the most I can add to my roll is a +4.

    Now, in a technologically advanced society, like ours, or in Star Trek, I have access to many resources to find out anything I am able to find our about Mars, or even Earth for that matter. In the rules, this is simulated with skill modifiers or the use of an entirely different skill (i.e. Use Computer). The level I have in a knowledge skill may increase, I might add a new specialization, or I might even acquire a new Skill Group: Skill, due to my research in the field using the resources available, or going 'back to school'.

    I would agree that a super-technological world/genre like Star Trek would have really intelligent people that are knowledgeable far beyond what we know today. But, I will argue that a skill in one thing doesn't make you a master in another just because you spent a point to add the specialization, and I believe Decipher did a great job at fixing this wide open door of which players have had advantage.
    Last edited by Tomcat; 05-01-2014 at 11:22 AM.

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  8. #8
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    You put quotations around my use of "suggesting" when you used "suggest" in your own post. I'm not sure why you felt the need to do that.

    Second, I never used the word "real," nor did I imply the system was trying to emulate reality. What I said was that the system was trying to emulate the very broad knowledge base that every character in every Star Trek series seemed to have (with the exception of Enterprise, in which everything was meant to be new and unfamiliar to most of the main characters). Characters spoke with authority beyond just a single Specific World, a single Culture or a single world's/species' History.

    Yes, in a realistic setting, skills and skill groups would be more narrow. I entirely agree with you on that point; however, the Star Trek franchise is not realistic in that way, and I think the system, as is, does a very good job of capturing the Star Trek feel for players and narrators.

    And, the system has a way of dealing with obscurity. The first is simple narrator fiat; if your species/organization/government is in contact with the world/species/culture for the first time, they clearly just have little or no information about it (and a skill test would automatically fail). An example would be the limited knowledge of Romulans prior to the 2260s.

    Second, obscure or hidden facts would have very high TNs, meaning only folks extremely well versed in the subject would know about the fact (like Vulcan pon farr). (In my online game, even the highly-experienced science officer-turned-commanding officer would need at least one exploding die to know something about pon farr.)

    Anyway, it seems we see the knowledge base of the main characters in the Star Trek universe differently, because they do know Mars, Martian Culture and Martian History as well as they know Earth's, even if it's not in their specialty to have such broad knowledge.
    Davy Jones

    "Frightened? My dear, you are looking at a man who has laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe! I was petrified."
    -- The Wizard of Oz

  9. #9
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    From a purely mechanical viewpoint, as originally written (and currently errata'd), skill groups/skills/specialties break down as follows:

    A skill group (Knowledge, Engineering, whatever) has several skills as part of it, so you have to pick one of those skills instead of having levels in just the group.

    Once you've chosen your skill, it covers all aspects of that skill, based (as Davy pointed out above) on the availability of the information. No amount of Knowledge: History is going to tell the Voyager crew what happened to the Kazon a thousand years ago because they have no way of gaining that information short of asking.

    When one takes one or more specialties, they use the same skill level for the skill, but apply the +2 specialty bonus when referring to the specialty they have. So if someone has Knowledge: Culture (Human, Vulcan) 6, they would add 8 to tests involving Human and Vulcan culture, but only 6 on tests involving other known species (like Klingons or Andorians).
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