Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

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Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby Paladyn » Sun Jul 01, 2012 5:19 pm

Hi everybody!
I'm in process of starting my first ever Traveller campaign.
My players hve created characters, I slowly give them bits of world knowledge, so everything is going fine. But I have a quesion concerning skills. If this was covered before, please forgive me and point, where answers lie.

Perhaps I've misunderstood rules, so pleas, explain me where did I went wrong.

What is the point of specialisation in skills?

While I have Gun Combat at 4 I can use crossbow, slug rifle or laser weapon, right? o what is the point of devoting skill point and hihgliting one branch of knowldge? If I understand correctly, when a charcere has for Example Gun Combat f 1 and gains skill one more time, he may choose to specialize in some fields, effectively gaining: Gun Combat 1 (slug rifles 2).

Can you explain me, why specialisation should b taken? It is narrowing available choices, as somebody with Gun Combat 1 slug rifles 2) will be inferior to other soldier who has only Gun Combat, but on level 2.

Please help :)
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby allanimal » Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:14 pm

It isn't a choice. When you have a skill with specializations, as soon as you get above skill level 0, you have to pick a specialization.

You don't have to always take your skills in the same specialization.
Your level 4 you mentioned could be gun combat (energy pistols) 1, (slug rifles) 3, for example.

But no matter what, you have to pick.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby IanBruntlett » Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:23 pm

Paladyn wrote:Hi everybody!
I'm in process of starting my first ever Traveller campaign.
My players hve created characters, I slowly give them bits of world knowledge, so everything is going fine. But I have a quesion concerning skills. If this was covered before, please forgive me and point, where answers lie.

Perhaps I've misunderstood rules, so pleas, explain me where did I went wrong.

What is the point of specialisation in skills?

While I have Gun Combat at 4 I can use crossbow, slug rifle or laser weapon, right? o what is the point of devoting skill point and hihgliting one branch of knowldge? If I understand correctly, when a charcere has for Example Gun Combat f 1 and gains skill one more time, he may choose to specialize in some fields, effectively gaining: Gun Combat 1 (slug rifles 2).

Can you explain me, why specialisation should b taken? It is narrowing available choices, as somebody with Gun Combat 1 slug rifles 2) will be inferior to other soldier who has only Gun Combat, but on level 2.

Please help :)
OK... I'll try and answer, with page references to the Core Rule Book.

(p5) Purpose of skills is to represent the character's training and past experience.

(p6) If a character has no level in a skill then he is untrained and has a DM (Dice Modifier) of -3

(p6) If a character has zero level in a skill then he is competent using that skill, but has little experience. His DM is effectively 0

(p6) If a character has one or more level in a skill (Level 1, Level 2 and so on) then he is trained in that skill. Each rank (level) represents several years of experience using that skill. A character with level 2-3 in a skill is a skilled professional in that field. A character with Medic 2 could be a doctor, a character with Medic 4 is a famous surgeon or specialist.

(p6) Some skills have specialities - specialised forms of that skill. A character picks a speciality when he gains level 1 in a skill with specialities. For example, a character might have Engineer 0, allowing him to make Engineer skill checks without an unskilled penalty. He might then gain a level in Engineer (me - he picks a speciality of Engineer - Jump Drives) giving him Engineer (Jump Drives) 1. He makes all Engineering Jump Drive checks with +1 DM but all other Engineer checks at DM +0.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby Mithras » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:51 am

I generally don't use specializations, they just weaken or dilute your skills. Characters don't start with that many.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby Paladyn » Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:11 am

Thank you very much, for tour insight. You helped me a lot :)
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby Captain Jonah » Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:31 am

Alternatively house rule and make the specialisations add more to the dice rolls.

For example an Engineer 2 adds plus 2 to his engineer skill checks. An engineer 1 (jump drive 1) adds plus one to his engineering skill checks but adds plus three (counting his specialisation as double)to his jump drive skill checks.

That way you either add a skill increase to your general engineering pool or you can specialise and get a lot more benefit in a limited field but not expand your general knowledge at all.

Jump drive being a popular one since an engineer is involved in the jump check.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby Myrm » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:57 pm

Paladyn wrote:Perhaps I've misunderstood rules, so pleas, explain me where did I went wrong.
I think that you have....
What is the point of specialisation in skills?
While I have Gun Combat at 4 I can use crossbow, slug rifle or laser weapon, right?
Yes, you can use all of them but while you get to use your specialisations at their full amount, but the rest are Skill 0.
Its actually a requirement of going above Skill 0, the choice is which speciality you choose in a skill group, not if you do or do not choose to specialise.

So Skill 0 is the basics of a field, allowing you to use any of the specialisations at level 0, to go higher than that you are picking a Specialisation to improve and all the other areas remain at 0. Equally if you get Skill level 1 in one specialisation, you get all the others immediately at 0.
If I understand correctly, when a charcere has for Example Gun Combat f 1 and gains skill one more time, he may choose to specialize in some fields, effectively gaining: Gun Combat 1 (slug rifles 2).
Can you explain me, why specialisation should b taken? It is narrowing available choices, as somebody with Gun Combat 1 slug rifles 2) will be inferior to other soldier who has only Gun Combat, but on level 2.
This is where you have gone wrong. The why should it be taken is the rules mandate that you must take it.

As soon as you get Gun Combat 1, then because Gun Combat is a group of skills with specialisation - you have to specialise. So get Gun Combat 1, you actually have to pick GC (Laser pistols) 1, or GC (Slug Rifles) 1 - you don't get everything at 1. Get another non-fixed level of Gun Combat and you can add another specialty at level 1, or improve the previous skill specialisation to 2. If you get one of those fixed level benefits (eg Gun Combat 1 on the rank tables for some careers) then you are forced to get another speciality if you already have something at level 1.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby 2330ADUSA1 » Mon Jul 02, 2012 4:22 pm

Lets look at the skills system from a real life perspective.

Ok many years ago I was a US Army Airbourne Ranger. I was a trained Sniper, but was also trained as a: Combat Rifleman, Small Arms Expert, Armor, Explosive Expert, Foward Observer, Calvery Scout, Sniper, and a few other jobs/clasifications.

Now I had/have the Traveller Gun Combat skill. I would give myself the following related skills:

- Gun Combat -3 (general)
- Gun Combat -2 (Spec. - Sniper Rifle - slug)
- Gun Combat -1 (Spec. - hand held pistol w silencer - slug)
- Observation -2
- Explosives - 1
- Hand to Hand Cbt -2
- Stealth - 2
- Survival - 2
- Admin - 2 (Knowledge - Millitary equip ID)

So with the above skill set I would be able to pick up most modern weapons and figure out how to service them and use them (Rifles and Hand Guns). With a little bit of play, I bet I could be dead acurate to hit any target as well that I took the time to aim at.

Now if I came accross a Energy weapon Rifle, well although I might have a darn good chance to figure out how to use it, I would not get any special major bonuses to hit with that weapon. I guess my biggest bonus would be to figure out how it works and being able to use it correctly. It would take me time to figure out the targeting and sighting in a target to be most effective with the weapon but that would come in time too. Thus helping me to pick up a Level -0 and then a Level -1 in Gun Combat (Energy Rifle) skill.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby GamerDude » Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:53 am

2330ADUSA1 wrote:Lets look at the skills system from a real life perspective.

Ok many years ago I was a US Army Airbourne Ranger. I was a trained Sniper, but was also trained as a: Combat Rifleman, Small Arms Expert, Armor, Explosive Expert, Foward Observer, Calvery Scout, Sniper, and a few other jobs/clasifications.

Now I had/have the Traveller Gun Combat skill. I would give myself the following related skills:

- Gun Combat -3 (general)
- Gun Combat -2 (Spec. - Sniper Rifle - slug)
- Gun Combat -1 (Spec. - hand held pistol w silencer - slug)
Let me add a little something to the numbers here...

Since you don't add multiple skills into one role... the above doesn't make sense per the rules. You don't add "Gun Combat (general)" AND "Gun Combat (Sniper-slug)" AND the Dex mod all onto the 2d6 roll to hit.

After you get Gun Combat (all) at 0 (from basic training) all further levels/ranks in Gun Combat *must* be applied to a specialty. So let me redo the list above for a moment:
- Gun Combat (All) - 0
- Gun Combat (Slug Rifle) - 2
- Gun Combat (Slug Pistol) - 1
- Three ranks somewhere into the various Gun Combat (Specialties).

now, with 2330's list... since every skill/attack roll is "Ability Mod" + "Level of Pertinent Skill(specialty)" + 2d6, why would I put skill levels into specialties when I can put them into (general) and have them count for ALL of the specialties?

Anyway... I see the specialties as the specific skills that - for convince are grouped under a logical heading to be easier to find.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby tneva82 » Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:28 am

GamerDude wrote:now, with 2330's list... since every skill/attack roll is "Ability Mod" + "Level of Pertinent Skill(specialty)" + 2d6, why would I put skill levels into specialties when I can put them into (general) and have them count for ALL of the specialties?
Because Mongoose decided there is no such thing as general skill if there's specialties available ;)
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby hdan » Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:21 pm

tneva82 wrote:
GamerDude wrote:now, with 2330's list... since every skill/attack roll is "Ability Mod" + "Level of Pertinent Skill(specialty)" + 2d6, why would I put skill levels into specialties when I can put them into (general) and have them count for ALL of the specialties?
Because Mongoose decided there is no such thing as general skill if there's specialties available ;)
It's been that way since Classic Traveller. Certain skills are really just "cascade skills", and you MUST take a specialization. The only thing that differentiates them from normal skills is that you can use other specializations within the group at a negative.

MgT's "0 level" skill system made CT's system more consistent.

Depending on the group, I often ignore the specialization part and just let players get (for example) Gun Combat-2 or Engineering-3. (Sometimes I run games for my kids, and they don't like specialization.)
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby GypsyComet » Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:36 am

It isn't dilution in most cases. It's "buy one, get the rest as zeros for free".

The only one of the Specialization trees that was diluted compared to prior editions is Engineering, and MGT's Engineering tree was actually two skills before, Engineering and Electronics, with a side order of Gravitics. The weapon and vehicle skills used to be specific and exclusive. Now one Rank spreads zeros all over that Spec tree.

It also allows more skills to be packed into the career skill tables. Think about needing separate spots on the charts for Pistols and Rifles...
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby Lord High Munchkin » Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:17 pm

As you say, getting all those free 0-ranks in related skills with only a single rank in a skill tree is not to be sniffed at.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby GamerDude » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:47 am

Lord High Munchkin wrote:As you say, getting all those free 0-ranks in related skills with only a single rank in a skill tree is not to be sniffed at.
The only time you get "skill name (ALL)" at zero is basic training for your career. Other than that you *always* have to choose a specialty if the skill has them.. AND when you take a skill to level 1 (and beyond) you must choose a specialty, you can't just keep doing say "gun combat (all) 5" or "Life Sciences (all) 2"

From the Traveller Core Rulebook, Sidebar page 51
Traveller Core Rulebook, pg 51 wrote: Some skills have specialties – specialized forms of that skill. A character picks a specialty when he gains level 1 in a skill with specialties.

For example, a character might have Engineer 0, allowing him to make any Engineer skill checks without an unskilled penalty. He might then gain a level in Engineer, giving him Engineer (Jump drives) 1. He would make all Engineer checks involving Jump drives at a +1 DM, but would make all other Engineer checks at a +0 DM.

A character can have multiple specialties in a skill – an engineer might have Engineer (Jump drives) 1 and Engineer (power plant) 2. He would make checks related to Jump drives with a +1 DM, checks related to power plants with a +2 DM and all other Engineer checks with a +0 DM.
Last edited by GamerDude on Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby Captain Jonah » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:48 am

Because of the way that the skills work a single rank one in a skill with multiple fields is very powerful. Far more powerful than going from one to two in a skill.

No skill is a minus 3 penalty. Skill zero removes that entire penalty.

So taking slug rifle one not only gives you a plus one with any slug rifle but it also removes the minus three with slug pistols, energy rifles, energy pistols, stunners, sling shots, bows and arrows and a small attack partridge in a pear tree launcher.

That single point taken in a skill gives you a chance of making skill rolls in every related field.

Going from slug rifle one to slug rifle two is by comparison a minor thing.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby GamerDude » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:39 am

The way the skills are listed/described we have related skills that have been grouped together for convince... to make it easier for us to find. and such. Imagine dropping "gun combat" and just have:
Slug Pistols
Slug Rifles
Energy Pistols
Energy Rifles

That means you have to look in two separate places for these skills.

The "general" skill also provides a way to clarify what skills are used where - so "gunner (turret)" isn't thought to be "heavy weapons" like say, on a tank and such.

Lets take this idea to the extreme and look at "Science", underneath are Social Science, life Science, Physical science and Space Science and each of those get further broken down. If you can put ranks in the general version science like "Science (All)", each "level" of skill would cover 17 separate skills. Like Capt'n says.. that's powerful.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby GypsyComet » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:54 pm

GamerDude wrote:
Lets take this idea to the extreme and look at "Science", underneath are Social Science, life Science, Physical science and Space Science and each of those get further broken down. If you can put ranks in the general version science like "Science (All)", each "level" of skill would cover 17 separate skills.
Except that "Science", specifically, is not a second level of Specialties. Each of the four (Life, Physical, Social, Space) is a separate skill, and each of *those* has specialties. They are grouped in the skills chapter for the other reason you stated: similar in-game applications.

The rules section covering Specialties is unfortunate in its example. Twice. (pages 6 and 52) The careers procedure on page 8 doesn't help. As such, we could argue about what it *should* say for a loong time, but what it needs is a Specialty example that starts from non-proficiency, OR a statement that skills with specialties that go from non-proficiency to '1' explicitly either stop at zero long enough to spread the zero around or they don't.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby hellbat » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:05 pm

2330ADUSA1 wrote:Lets look at the skills system from a real life perspective.

Ok many years ago I was a US Army Airbourne Ranger. I was a trained Sniper, but was also trained as a: Combat Rifleman, Small Arms Expert, Armor, Explosive Expert, Foward Observer, Calvery Scout, Sniper, and a few other jobs/clasifications.

Now I had/have the Traveller Gun Combat skill. I would give myself the following related skills:

- Gun Combat -3 (general)
- Gun Combat -2 (Spec. - Sniper Rifle - slug)
- Gun Combat -1 (Spec. - hand held pistol w silencer - slug)
- Observation -2
- Explosives - 1
- Hand to Hand Cbt -2
- Stealth - 2
- Survival - 2
- Admin - 2 (Knowledge - Millitary equip ID)
A question for you. Do you think Traveller character generation is realistic? I do not know how long you served, but allowing for the *best* possible event rolls - e.g. lots of training in spec ops - promotions and skill rolls it would take about 20+ years (5+ terms) to acquire that skill that through Army. Was that your experience "in real life" as well or do you think Traveller is overly stingy or overly generous?
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby F33D » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:39 pm

hellbat wrote:
A question for you. Do you think Traveller character generation is realistic? I do not know how long you served, but allowing for the *best* possible event rolls - e.g. lots of training in spec ops - promotions and skill rolls it would take about 20+ years (5+ terms) to acquire that skill that through Army. Was that your experience "in real life" as well or do you think Traveller is overly stingy or overly generous?
Hard to say. Let's take a look at an example. The U.S. Navy's enlisted Nuc school is ~ 2 years long, full time. You come out with probably Nuc (fission) Power plant Eng. - 1.

Different skills take different amounts of time to obtain in the real world. Gun combat -1 Assault rifle doesn't take to 2 years full time to obtain...
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby GamerDude » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:31 am

hellbat wrote:A question for you. Do you think Traveller character generation is realistic? I do not know how long you served, but allowing for the *best* possible event rolls - e.g. lots of training in spec ops - promotions and skill rolls it would take about 20+ years (5+ terms) to acquire that skill that through Army. Was that your experience "in real life" as well or do you think Traveller is overly stingy or overly generous?
While I can't answer the questions you asked of hellbat, let me put this to you game mechanics wise.

Overall a skill rating of '4' is quite high. Without any other modifiers that means you just need a total of four on the dice for a bare minimum success. So if you have a total modifier from difficulty etc of -4 that puts you at an "even-up" roll, just a hair under 50% chance of success.

As far as specializations go, even the best character can't be Samantha Carter (of SG1) who seems to know just about everything for the physical sciences, and even has displayed some small skill in the physical science/medical area (but that may just have been 'plot convenience'). We're not talking a general familiarity getting you a '0' skill level but real in depth knowledge and skill in applying that knowledge.

IF you take modern "Engineering" I can off the top of my head name: Electrical, Mechanical, Chemical, Automotive, Aerospace. And even in these there can be more highly specialized areas of study & expertise.

Overall.. the RAW specializations are necessary. In your game? do what you want, don't like them toss them out press on. No one is going to come confiscate your books etc. - and don't get me wrong I say that with a smile on face because your game is your game.
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