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Thread: Space Science Specializations

  1. #1

    Space Science Specializations

    Two quick questions about potential adjustments/interpretations to the Space Science skill.

    1 - With respect to Navigations and such, does it make sense to have specializations in both Astrogation and Stellar Cartography. I realize that there are some differences, but ability in one sort of implies ability in the other. Does it make sense or unbalance things to combine them into something like Astrometrics?

    2 - How do you differentiate the use of Astronomy and Astrophysics? I get that in a broad sense Astronomy is identifying what things are and Astrophysics addresses what things can do. How do you use them?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 1999
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    1. While having specialisations in both won't hurt, Stellar Cartography is all about mapping the stars, while Astrogation is navigating among the stars. Somewhat complementary, actually. (See below)

    2. Astronomy is the study of stars, while Astrophysics is a somewhat deeper study into how stars work. Again, complementary skills, so much so that in both cases they're actually specialisations of the same overall skill (Space Sciences). One gives you some knowledge of the other.
    Last edited by Owen E Oulton; 11-21-2016 at 09:25 PM.

  3. #3
    isn't Stellar Cartography really just a fancy name for the mapping part of Astronomy? Part of astronomy's job is to map the stars they observe.

  4. #4
    There's two ways to deal with it:

    Technically, Astronomy would by focused on the actual act of observation and measurement of stellar objects, while Stellar Cartography would be collating astronomical data into records of spatial relationships. So an astronomer might do both, but keep in mind the difference between contemporary surveyors and contemporary cartographers.

    In Game Terms, it's probably too fine a hair to split, unless you have a party with multiple characters invested heavily in the Space Sciences skill and you want to distinguish their specialties.
    Portfolio | Blog Currently Running: Call of Cthulhu, Star Trek GUMSHOE Currently Playing: DramaSystem, Swords & Wizardry

  5. #5
    One of the ways I always fudged it was to allow for skill checks in 'similar' specializations to be allowed if the player raised it... Rather than a skill check against the base skill...

    So for example a Stellar Cartography skill check might come up... But the player with an Astronomy specialization might step in and make the check instead... Sometimes I could be quite flexible in the face of a convincing argument... doubly so if it was made in character...
    DanG/Darth Gurden
    The Voice of Reason and Sith Lord

    “Putting the FUNK! back into Dysfunctional!”

    Coming soon. The USS Ganymede NCC-80107
    "Ad astrae per scientia" (To the stars through knowledge)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 1999
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    This is not how the rules work. If a character does not have the Specialisation, it always defaults to the base Skill. This is not normally a big deal, as the Specialisation is normally only a point or two higher than the base Skill. If the character has, say, Space Sciences (Astronomy) 1 (6) and needs to make a Stellar Cartography roll, they make it against the Skill level of 1, not 6. Otherwise, why have Specialisations at all... If they wanted to concentrate on Stellat Cartography, they should have put their points there--period.

  7. #7
    As this thread exemplifies, a player may not have the same exact idea of what stellar cartography versus astronomy versus astrometrics entails when choosing to place their skill points, so if this discussion comes up at the table in a situation where the player didn't game a disorganized system and in good faith spent XP on specializations instead of bumping only the core skill, it seems unfair to hold the existence of such hair-splitting in the rules against them.

    The big problem here is that ICON can theoretically send you down a rabbit-hole of infinitely-dividing specializations without clear hermeneutics for deciding what applies to what. This is especially a problem in the sciences, since being able to communicate and understand ideas in a field often requires a grounding in related matters. ("Sorry, this bacterium is Microbiology, not Biology!") The Space Sciences writeup (at least in the DS9 book) exacerbates this problem in calling Astronomy "The most basic of the space sciences," i.e. why the hell is this separate from the core skill?
    Portfolio | Blog Currently Running: Call of Cthulhu, Star Trek GUMSHOE Currently Playing: DramaSystem, Swords & Wizardry

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