What skills have you dropped?

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Old School
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What skills have you dropped?

Postby Old School » Fri Aug 31, 2018 12:52 pm

The thread on number of skills for a competent character got me wondering: what skills have others dropped in the interest of simplifying the game? I like scientific characters, but the array of scientific skills can make one dizzy. I haven’t done anything to simplify this yet.

The only change from the printed rules I’ve made sround skills is dropping the Engineering (Life Support) skill. I’ve combined it euth the Engineering (Power) sub skill. That may not make sense from a realism standpoint, but I just thought four engineering specialties on a spaceship was just too much.

I do like how Mongoose has consolidated the many, many gun combat skills into just two.

Anyone else make changes here?
Pyromancer
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby Pyromancer » Fri Aug 31, 2018 3:18 pm

For my upcoming Drinax campaign, I dropped almost all specializations. Someone with Pilot can pilot everything, someone with Melee can use all melee weapons, and so on.
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby paltrysum » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:59 pm

None. I find the current list to be adequate. Old School, I see your point about the Life Support cascade being sort of superfluous, but I've kept it in. I kind of like it that operating a starship has some complexity and mastering it (i.e., contributing lots of skill development toward it) requires some commitment.

I kind of miss some of the old CT skills: Forward Observer, Hunting, Liaison, Instruction, etc., but it's more out of nostalgia than necessity.

What I have done away with is the training rule. I don't like the version presented in the core rules and have opted for an experience point-based approach instead.
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NOLATrav
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby NOLATrav » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:44 pm

I’ve actually added Zero G skill back to the game. It should be exotic and cool to come from an asteroid belt or whatever.

Haven’t come across anything I’d want to drop.

I’ve kept life support as a specialty because IMTU it covers artificial gravity, hydroponics, venting air locks and bays and the like, as well as environment and resource management. Enough integrated subsystems to be a discipline in itself.

At a certain point you could just have Electronics (computers) and eliminate the specialization there. What’s the difference between Comms and Computers?
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:37 am

Old School wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 12:52 pm
The thread on number of skills for a competent character got me wondering: what skills have others dropped in the interest of simplifying the game?
None. I've only changed some skills to match different settings played in.
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby legozhodani » Sun Sep 02, 2018 4:07 am

I got rid of none. In fact we have added.

I like Lifesupport as a skill. One which in the real world I have some experience of. We also allow many of the engineering skills to be taken as 'profession'. This means a character can have Power or Life support etc but it doesn't cascade. Makes for an interesting game.

Also have subdivided Medic to Trauma-Diagnose-Care-Surgery. Don't see why such things as Electronics or Engines get subsections but the diversity of flesh mechanics doesn't. Also we allow these to be taken as Profession. So a pharmacist could Diagnose but not give surgery etc. Again allows for players to have fun with the medical careares and again, makes for some interesting games.
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby NOLATrav » Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:45 am

legozhodani wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 4:07 am
I got rid of none. In fact we have added.

I like Lifesupport as a skill. One which in the real world I have some experience of. We also allow many of the engineering skills to be taken as 'profession'. This means a character can have Power or Life support etc but it doesn't cascade. Makes for an interesting game.

Also have subdivided Medic to Trauma-Diagnose-Care-Surgery. Don't see why such things as Electronics or Engines get subsections but the diversity of flesh mechanics doesn't. Also we allow these to be taken as Profession. So a pharmacist could Diagnose but not give surgery etc. Again allows for players to have fun with the medical careares and again, makes for some interesting games.
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Saladman
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby Saladman » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:54 pm

None yet, but next time out I feel I ought to drop the cascade skills for Animals. It's already rare enough in a sci fi game I think anyone who rolls it can have it all.
Old School
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby Old School » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:41 pm

I can see splitting the Medic Skill in terms of realism. Downside is that if you have a campaign that involves getting shot at or otherwise injured, Medic is a critical skill that is now much harder.

As for Animals, Any time a sub skill was critical it is probably by design (i.e. some animal gets hurt as a plot device). Animals 0 as a background skill suffices for my travellers.
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby steve98052 » Wed Sep 05, 2018 6:54 pm

One way to balance cascade skills would be to make them less costly to acquire during play.

Digression:
During character generation, characters may acquire as many as six level 0 skills, as basic training for their first career. (That's if I remember correctly; my PDF books are on my computer, which crashed a couple of days ago.) They may also acquire or advance as many as two skills above level 0.* Based on six level 0 skills in four (or two*) years of intensive training, level 0 represents as much as 8 (or four*) months of intensive training, and advancing beyond level 0 represents two years of on-the-job training. College is a special case (and again my PDF books are inaccessible until I fix my computer).

So, to advance during play, the system should be scaled to no more than that amount of progression in skills.

But cascade skills are not necessarily as difficult as all-encompassing skills. Acquiring a skill with cascade skills requires learning both the general principles of the field and the specifics of the specialization. Examples: Engineering (Life Support) involves the general concepts of maintaining complicated machinery and the specifics of life support. Science (Chemistry) involves both understanding of scientific method (some of which may fall under Education) and the specifics of chemistry.

When one wants to advance a different cascade skill under the same general skill, the general principles are not necessary, only catching up with the specifics of the advancing cascade skill. Examples: advancing one's Engineering (Maneuver Drive) to match one's Engineering (Life Support) or advancing one's Science (Terragen Biology) to match one's Science (Chemistry).

Also, the specificity of a cascade skill (Terragen Biology is a subset of Biology, and a supeset of Mammal Zoology) doesn't change the difficulty of learning, but affects the depth of knowledge. Someone with Mammal Zoology wil know a lot about mammals, have some understanding of Terragen Zoology, Terragen Biology, and even non-Terragen biology. Someone with Biology will know things about Aslan biology, Hiver biology, Droyne biology, Terragen biology, and assorted other ecosystems' biology, and would probably be well qualified to study the biology of a newly discovered ecosystem, but wouldn't have much depth of knowledge about mammals, except that a scientist who happened to be a mammal would know more from familiaritywith one's own ecosystem.

The long Science example suggests that there could be a generalist cascades to some skills. For example, an engineer who was the sole engineer on a small starship might have Engineering (Small Starship), which covers all of Power Plant, Maneuver Drive, Jump Drive, and Life Support, but only on ships small enough to be maintained by a single engineer or a lead engineer and a part-time engineer who doubles in another department. The small starship engineer wouldn't be as good with a jump drive as someone with Engineering (Jump Drive), even if the latter trained on a giant ship with a hundred jump drive engineers rather than a small starship, and also would be at a disadvantage with any system on a large starship, but would be better with a jump drive than someone with Engineering (Power Plant).

One could even combine skillsthat aren't defined as subsets of the same skill. If I remember correctly, there are separate combat skills for melee, guns, and possibly heavy weapons, muscle-powered missile weapons, and unarmed combat. But some things about combat are true for an artillery piece, a shotgun, a javelin, or a fistfight: focusing on the attack, awareness of the need for defense, and the psychological ability to do harm to another sophonr. So one could define a general "Fighting" skill that covers it all, but leaves a character less capable at any specific for of combat than someone with a specific skill. (A generic "Fighting" skill could also apply to non-player characters, with a different meaning: they have the appropriate combat skill for whatever weaponsthey happen to be carrying when encountered.)

I'd also suggest the addition of in-training skill levels. For example, Astrogation-T3 means the same -3 roll as no Astrogation skill at all, but the character is studying it, Astrogation-T2 means a novice with a -2 instead of a -3, Astrogation-T1 is a more advanced trainee with a -1 roll, and finally Astrogation-0 and up have their usual meanings.

That's a long ramble, but the general points are that skills acquired in play can be different from those acquired in character generation, and advancing skills takes a certain amount of time of specific training or a longer time for on-the-jobtraining.

Additionally, a highly specific cascade skill acquired in character generation is worth less than a more general skill. Not balanced? Maybe not, but that can be treated as a case of "life is not fair", and that a character may just not have the best trainers or on-the-job mentors in some terms as in others.

* One point I was fuzzy about was whether one can acquire an above level 0 regular skill in a first term, in addition to basic training. Any citations that clarify that?
Old School
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby Old School » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:02 am

To your last point, the core rulebook contradicts itself. The rules on page 16 clearly state that you pick a table and roll once for evey term. The flow chart on page 10 indicates that in your first career you get basic training but no skill roll.
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby steve98052 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:21 pm

Old School wrote:
Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:02 am
The rules on page 16 clearly state that you pick a table and roll once for evey term. The flow chart on page 10 indicates that in your first career you get basic training but no skill roll.
I guess I have an excuse to be confused. Sounds like something that deserves to be addressed to the writers.
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby Saladman » Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:11 pm

I haven't done the following, I'm not even attached to it, but this thread has me wondering about splitting Pilot into Vacuum and Atmospheric, instead of Capital/Space/Small Craft. Any downside I'm not seeing?
steve98052 wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 6:54 pm
* One point I was fuzzy about was whether one can acquire an above level 0 regular skill in a first term, in addition to basic training. Any citations that clarify that?
In 1e it's quite clear that you can and do. I'd be surprised if they changed it, but without the book I'm not the best person to answer for 2e.
Old School
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby Old School » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:52 pm

I always award that 1st term skill. I Never considered otherwise until I saw an online, “by the book” character generator for 2nd ed that did not.
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby NOLATrav » Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:30 am

Old School wrote:
Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:52 pm
I always award that 1st term skill. I Never considered otherwise until I saw an online, “by the book” character generator for 2nd ed that did not.
Same here. Not changing our paradigm, tho.
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby Linwood » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:49 am

You can get a Level 1 skill in your first term thru a promotion or event.

And don’t forget the Background skills - typically 3 additional 0-Level skills (depending on EDU).
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:55 pm

I have almost always dropped the Navigation skill for space travel.

It is not needed for normal-space travel as we can do it now with computers, so it is trivial and does not need to be a skill.

Jump travel isn't about Navigation it is about Engineering and knowledge of the gravity wells at the target system, again trivial except for going into a new system, and you don't emerge from jump close to a star anyway.

I use Sensor Operator to replace the bridge position. For each TON of sensors, you need 1 operator (Extended arrays etc. do not count, just the basic sensor package). Sensor Operators are paid like Gunners.

I also recently read about combining Mechanical and Electronics into a single skill - called Repair. Even at TL7-8, most items require bot electronics and mechanical skills (modern cars, planes etc.).

I also use only one Science skill with several specialties: Life, Physical, Social, and Mental. Skill in one specialty grants Level 0 in all the others (basic scientific principles and maths).

BUT, for games involving a lot of wilderness exploration or hunting, I break up the Survival skill into a specialty for each major Biome type. Again, skill in one specialty allows Level 0 in all others (tracking, finding water, etc.).
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steve98052
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby steve98052 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:38 pm

Rikki Tikki Traveller wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:55 pm
I have almost always dropped the Navigation skill for space travel.

It is not needed for normal-space travel as we can do it now with computers, so it is trivial and does not need to be a skill.

Jump travel isn't about Navigation it is about Engineering and knowledge of the gravity wells at the target system, again trivial except for going into a new system, and you don't emerge from jump close to a star anyway.
. . .
In the spirit of the Traveller idea that people still matter, I am inclined to keep Astrogation. I don't see it as something that one is likely to roll except in extraordinary circumstances (such as a jump from inside the 100 diameter limit to escape an attack), but I see it as a necessary skill for jump, because the software itself is so complicated to use. A good astrogator, particularly in cooperation with a good jump engineer, good drives, and good sensors and such, can mean more efficient operations: exiting jump with the most efficient location and normal space vector for a quick trip to the destination world. They may be able to narrow the estimate of jump time, or at least get a bit longer warning that a ship is approaching the end of a jump, so everyone can be on station for the return to normal space in a relaxed state, rather than, "Whoa! Get the pilot out of the fresher. Less than two minutes to normal space."

I like the rest of your message though.

More on when astrogation goes wrong in this thread:
HalC wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:52 pm
. . . Question that I'd like to ask pertains to inaccurate jumps in MgT. . . .
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby HalC » Fri Sep 07, 2018 5:02 pm

What surprises me about cascade skills is this...

If we have jack of all trades, why don't the cascade skills also add a form of Cascade jack of all trades like effect?

Maybe it is my GURPS background that's showing, but it would almost make sense that if you have a skill in engineering, that it could be used in lieu of the other engineering skills as a sort of zero level skill. Or worst case scenario, treat it such that you have to have a skill of 2+ before it can act as a substitute zero level skill.
steve98052
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Re: What skills have you dropped?

Postby steve98052 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 5:19 pm

HalC wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 5:02 pm
. . . If we have jack of all trades, why don't the cascade skills also add a form of Cascade jack of all trades like effect?
. . .
Good point! I know that some people find Jack of All Trades too powerful. Maybe a solution there would be a diminished Jack of Some Trades skill for various categories: Starship (covering anything one might do in the usual starship jobs, including Pilot, Astrogation, Sensors, Engineering, Gunnery. Steward, Zero-G, Ship Tactics, etc.), Social (covering things like Admin, Streetwise, Liaison, Diplomacy, Steward, maybe languages, etc.), Combat (everything but starship combat, or maybe even that), Sciences (including medical), and Miscellaneous (everything not already covered by another group, even if that's unrealistically disjointed).

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