Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

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locarno24
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby locarno24 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:00 am

- 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)
Let's call that Gun Combat (Slug Rifle)/3, Gun Combat (Slug Pistol)/1, and Recon/1

Depends if you're going to say those skill levels are definitely /1 not /0 - because it is obviously much easier to acquire the latter. It's an issue of definition - what someone considers skill level 1 to be. If a 4 years basic training programme gives you five skill level 0 and 1 skill level 1, it suggests skill/0 is rather more than it seems to be considered elsewhere in the rules.


Okay...... time to acquire.

The best result you can get is (normally) 1 skill rank per term from your service/specialist skills, and 1 skill rank from an event, plus one every other term (ish) from promotions. In addition, you've got about 3 more skill ranks from character connections and 2 from the party skill package.
Id say 4-5 terms is probably a fair guess from the rules.
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby rust » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:18 am

According to the sidebar on page 51 of the Mongoose Taveller
core rules, a skill level of 2 is the equivalent of a doctorate. In
real life it takes (at least) 5+ years to earn a doctorate, with
rather little spare time to learn other skills beyond a very basic
level. In my view this makes Mongoose Traveller a very gene-
rous (and not at all realistic) system when it comes to skill le-
vels.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby Captain Jonah » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:38 am

The thing with MongT skills is that skill 0 is the big skill, skill 0 is in effect mastery rather than being the bottom of the ladder.

Because the penalty for unskilled is -3 gaining skill 0 in effect improves your chance to perform that skill by 3 points.

A complete novice given an assault riffle can spray and pray and maybe get a few rounds into the side of a nearby barn (-3 or 11+ to hit). Basic training covering fire control, aiming etc significantly increases the ability to use the weapon to the point where they are hitting half(ish) the time (0 or 8+).

Above skill 0 you are dealing with incremental improvements rather than the huge leap represented by skill 0.

A characters first term that gives them 6 skills at 0, plus one or two at one on top, represents a huge and very intense training period. Slug rifle 0 represents basic weapons training over months of drill, range firing and then move and shoot type workouts. Driver 0 is months of training behind the wheel of a number of vehicles, for example wheeled covers the humble jeep or hummer, a 1.5 ton truck, a 2+ton lorry, a multi wheeled cross country combat vehicle like the Stryker. Tactics 0 is multiple classes plus field work with squads and platoons.

Beyond the cramming of skills in the first term you are very much adding little bits to known skills rather than gaining the intense and in depth training of those skill 0s. A 10% improvement of an existing skill is a minor thing compared to learning the entire skill in the first place.

To me the first term represents the real learning, this is where you get basic training, advanced training, specialised training and lots of practice to pick up all those powerful skill 0s. Each term beyond this is you working at a job and picking up bits of knowledge on the side or attending training courses every so often. You spend most of your time after the first term doing the career and a lot less learning.

For example a junior doctor will spend an entire term becoming that junior doctor and he will pick up a few medical sciences at 0 plus medic at 1. From then on his 4 year terms are spent treating patients where he will learn new things from short courses or from working along side more experienced doctors. The improvement from medic 1 to medic 2 is a small increase in skill overall and takes 4 years simply because the bulk of those 4 years is spent working not learning. The learning happens as a side line not as the focus of that term.

You can take your junior doctor and fast track him to surgeon and head of surgery by taking him out of the wards and putting him through an intense mix of training and practice. Medic 4 in a few years rather than a few terms. The downside being that his employer needs to cover the considerable costs and accept that he isn’t doing any work during that time.

So you could luck out and get to skill 4 in only a few terms with a luck event and promotions or you could be in your 8th or 10th term before getting to that skill level. Either way is possible.

You can meet people who are brilliant in a subject, who have done Graduate, Post graduate, Doctoral and post Doctoral studies in a single field and are incredibly skilled in that field before they are 40. They mostly have no other skills but with in their specialist field those youngsters are world class. Look at a few of the Olympic Athletes who are picking up World class wins and gold medals in their teens because all they do is cram training in a single field.

Another point to consider. The stat is mighty indeed compared to the skill when the skill has subsets.

To refer to Ms Carter (Captain/Major/Colonel). With an INT bonus of +2 and/or EDU bonus of +2 or even a +3 which is doable with a few good personal development rolls skill 1 in one of the physical sciences gives you skill 0 in the others. With the stat bonus that becomes +2 or +3 in EVERY skill in that chain. All from a single skill 1.

Simply doing a skill does not represent Skill 0, the +4 for trivial negates the -3 for unskilled and you spend all day doing something a bit more slowly but succeed automatically. Skill 0 represents significant ability and training. Everything above skill 0 is very much a slow increase in your skill.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby locarno24 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:07 pm

According to the sidebar on page 51 of the Mongoose Taveller core rules, a skill level of 2 is the equivalent of a doctorate. In real life it takes (at least) 5+ years to earn a doctorate, with rather little spare time to learn other skills beyond a very basic level. In my view this makes Mongoose Traveller a very generous (and not at all realistic) system when it comes to skill levels.
Which I agree with. My pet hate - which messes up this view - is the rules for learning skills, which suggests that a skill level 1 should be attainable in....what....call it a couple of months for people with seven or so skill points to their name?
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby rust » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:24 pm

Mongoose Traveller's system for learning and improving skills
is really fascinating:
A character’s Skill Total is calculated by summing the levels of
each skill (level zero skills count as zero).
(...)
To increase a skill, a character must train for a number of weeks
equal to his current Skill Total plus the desired level of the skill.
So Jimmy Useless, who only learned a couple of Level 0 skills
during his short career, can suddenly discover his incredible
talent for medicine and become a galaxy class surgeon with
a skill Level 6 in just six weeks.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby GamingGlen » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:18 am

rust wrote:Mongoose Traveller's system for learning and improving skills
is really fascinating:
A character’s Skill Total is calculated by summing the levels of
each skill (level zero skills count as zero).
(...)
To increase a skill, a character must train for a number of weeks
equal to his current Skill Total plus the desired level of the skill.
So Jimmy Useless, who only learned a couple of Level 0 skills
during his short career, can suddenly discover his incredible
talent for medicine and become a galaxy class surgeon with
a skill Level 6 in just six weeks.
The learning comes from one of those correspondence schools where you send in money and it takes 6 weeks for them to send you a diploma. :D

My ruling is that you have to progress through every skill level, so:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 = 21 weeks.

I noticed this problem last time I ran Traveller, so I made each 0 skill equal to 0.5 weeks for training time calculation purposes. That has been some time ago, and I recall perhaps that I may have changed (desired skill level) to [(desired skill level) squared].
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby GamingGlen » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:34 am

rust wrote:According to the sidebar on page 51 of the Mongoose Taveller
core rules, a skill level of 2 is the equivalent of a doctorate. In
real life it takes (at least) 5+ years to earn a doctorate, with
rather little spare time to learn other skills beyond a very basic
level. In my view this makes Mongoose Traveller a very gene-
rous (and not at all realistic) system when it comes to skill le-
vels.
Wasn't it level 3 in previous editions to be a doctorate? I kept with that theme in MgT, no matter what it says in the MgT book.

I don't think the system is all that generous. I've generated 30 year olds that can barely walk, chew gum, and fire a gun at the same time.

Seems to me that most of you are forgetting the difficulty modifiers. Yes, it's easy to make an 8+ die roll on ROUTINE actions with a couple skill levels, but where is the fun in ROUTINE activities? Calculating vectors while in a vacc suit magnetized to hold Mal against the hull so he can fire the heavy cannon hastily mounted onto the hull of Serenity was anything but ROUTINE. Of course, he did not actually have to hit anything to get the Reavers' attention (that would be EASY), but still if he had to hit one to get all their attention .... :) (did he actually hit one, I don't recall.. ah, an excuse to watch the movie again :D ).
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby GamerDude » Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:14 am

rust wrote:According to the sidebar on page 51 of the Mongoose Taveller core rules, a skill level of 2 is the equivalent of a doctorate. In real life it takes (at least) 5+ years to earn a doctorate...
From the wikipedia page "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctorate_degree#Types" in the USA it states "The mean number of years to completion of doctoral degrees for all fields in the US is seven"

Second, here is the verbatim text excerpt from the sidebar Page 51 of the MGT Core RUles
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 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.
(Emphasis is *mine*)
Captain Jonah wrote:The thing with MongT skills is that skill 0 is the big skill, skill 0 is in effect mastery rather than being the bottom of the ladder.
Let me say... *wrong*

In Hero System every setting has what are called "everyman skills", skills that in the culture are so familiar so ingrained into everyday life that everyone has a basic familiarity with it. Personally I equate "Drive - Automobile" as a current modern USA everyman skill what with all the driving games, depictions on TV/Movies etc.

To quote the same sidebar as above
"If a character has zero level in a skill (Skill 0), then he is competent in using that skill, but has little experience. He does not get any bonus from his skill ranks when using that skill but at least he avoids the penalty for being untrained."
Sounds very much like its an "everyman skill" - or that they've had training enough to avoid the -3 "untrained" penalty but, not enough practical experience to rate a higher level in the skill.

Rust, CaptJOna, does it make more sense when the book is properly referenced and accurately quoted? *wink*

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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby locarno24 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:53 am

So Jimmy Useless, who only learned a couple of Level 0 skills
during his short career, can suddenly discover his incredible
talent for medicine and become a galaxy class surgeon with
a skill Level 6 in just six weeks.
Well - not quite so quick; the starting 'desired skill level' is 1, then 2 (and now with 1 skill rank), and so on.
But even so, Jimmy can still get to level 4 in 16 weeks...
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby rust » Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:29 am

locarno24 wrote: ... the starting 'desired skill level' is 1, then 2 (and now with 1 skill rank), and so on.
While this is a possible houserule, the core rules do not mention
this.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby GamerDude » Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:48 pm

locarno24 wrote:Well - not quite so quick; the starting 'desired skill level' is 1, then 2 (and now with 1 skill rank), and so on.
But even so, Jimmy can still get to level 4 in 16 weeks...
While I'd love to know the reference for this "desired skill level" you quote, even more importantly I'm curious how you computed that "level 4 in 16 weeks"?

Doesn't match what's been quoted from the book on how important the ranks are (level of training), you don't state is that from "not trained at all" to level 4 or starting at level 1 etc. Also what is his training in other skills because if you're using the training skills after the character starts play then all the levels of all his skills have an effect on how long the training takes.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby daryen » Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:22 pm

rust wrote:
locarno24 wrote: ... the starting 'desired skill level' is 1, then 2 (and now with 1 skill rank), and so on.
While this is a possible houserule, the core rules do not mention
this.
Uh, no.

Rulebooks have a page count and a limit to how many words they can have. When written, the authors will generally let certain "obvious" things be implied so as to save words for another rule or part of the rulebook. So, whether it is completely and outright stated, it is blatantly obvious that you cannot go from no level at all to level 6 in one go. Other parts of the rules specifically state that you must progress through a skill level by level. So, if Johnny Useless is trying to learn a skill, the "desired skill level" is obviously 1. In fact, it can be nothing else. Once he has learned skill 1, he can then have a "desired skill level" of 2. He can never have a "desired skill level" of 6 until he already has level 5 in the skill.

To state that the rules say anything differently is to misread the rules and take that one rule in isolation and defiance of the rest of the rulebook.

So, yes, the core rulebook does mean to do it this way, and it is in no way a "house rule". It is the RAW.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby rust » Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:01 pm

daryen wrote:Other parts of the rules specifically state that you must progress through a skill level by level.
And other parts of the rules do not seem compatible with this.

Just take a look at the progression of the point costs for skill
levels on the Point Allocation table on page 40. The progression
beyond skill level 0 is 2/4/6/8. This fits in with a "direct" learning,
requiring for example 2 weeks to get from Level 0 to Level 2, or 3
weeks from Level 0 to Level 3, or 4 weeks from Level 0 to Level 4,
with a point cost of 2 points per week of learning.

Using the method you consider obvious, to improve a Level 0 skill
to Level 1 takes 1 week, to continue from Level 1 to Level 2 takes
another 3 weeks (total 4), to continue from Level 2 to Level 3 takes
another 5 weeks (total 9), and to continue from Level 3 to Level 4
takes another 7 weeks (total 16) - this progression is 1/4/9/16, and
the point costs for the skills levels should mirror this.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby daryen » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:20 pm

rust wrote:
daryen wrote:Other parts of the rules specifically state that you must progress through a skill level by level.
And other parts of the rules do not seem compatible with this.
It still doesn't change the core concept that you have to progress through a skill one level at a time. And they are not incompatible at all.

The point-buy system (which is what is being referenced) doesn't represent any type of "learning". It represents relative in-game values of the skills for the purposes of character creation. There is no representation of "learning", as the whole point-buy creation process totally abstracts out any kind of in-game process at all. It is simply a way to create a character and get them to mustering out in a fair, balanced way.

The learning of a new skill does, however, represent the process of learning. Using a totally different progression for learning a new skill in-game is in no way incompatible with the point-buy character creation process as they are modelling totally different aspects of the game, even though both result in adding skills to a character.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby GamerDude » Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:56 am

rust wrote:
daryen wrote:Other parts of the rules specifically state that you must progress through a skill level by level.
And other parts of the rules do not seem compatible with this.

Just take a look at the progression of the point costs for skill...
...
Using the method you consider obvious, to improve a Level 0 skill to Level 1 takes 1 week, to continue from Level 1 to Level 2 takes another 3 weeks (total 4),
Let me explain something here.

First, the point allocation system is for char gen only.

Second, Skills do not exist in a vacuum. Once the character starts play the cost to improve a skill comes in weeks of training and no skill exists in isolation. You add all the skill levels together and add in the new level of the skill being improved and *that* is how many weeks it takes to improve the skill in question.
Traveller Core Rulebook, p29 wrote:LEARNING NEW SKILLS
The more skills a character possesses, the longer it takes him to learn a new skill. A character’s Skill Total is calculated by summing the levels of each skill (level zero skills count as zero). A character with Mechanic 1 and Gun Combat (slug pistols) 2 would have a Skill Total of 3.

To increase a skill, a character must train for a number of weeks equal to his current Skill Total plus the desired level of the skill. So, to advance from Pilot 2 to Pilot 3 with a current Skill Total of 3 would take (three, plus three) six weeks. A character may only train one skill in a given week.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby diplomacydave » Fri May 31, 2013 3:30 pm

Hi guys.

I am new here, but I wanted to point out what I saw as the source of confusion. On Page 51 under skills, the rules state the following:

"When a character reaches level 1 in a skill, he CAN take a speciality in that skill". (The capitals are mine).

That makes it seem optional, whereas you are all saying that it is mandatory. A "must" instead of a "can" would have helped a lot there.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby AndrewW » Fri May 31, 2013 5:00 pm

diplomacydave wrote:Hi guys.

I am new here, but I wanted to point out what I saw as the source of confusion. On Page 51 under skills, the rules state the following:

"When a character reaches level 1 in a skill, he CAN take a speciality in that skill". (The capitals are mine).

That makes it seem optional, whereas you are all saying that it is mandatory. A "must" instead of a "can" would have helped a lot there.
Traveller Core Rulebook page: 51 Skill Levels and What They Mean wrote: Some skills have specialities – specialised forms of that skill. A
character picks a speciality when he gains level 1 in a skill with
specialities.
But under Skills on page 52 it does say he can instead...
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby Egil Skallagrimsson » Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:28 am

AndrewW wrote:
diplomacydave wrote:Hi guys.

I am new here, but I wanted to point out what I saw as the source of confusion. On Page 51 under skills, the rules state the following:

"When a character reaches level 1 in a skill, he CAN take a speciality in that skill". (The capitals are mine).

That makes it seem optional, whereas you are all saying that it is mandatory. A "must" instead of a "can" would have helped a lot there.
Traveller Core Rulebook page: 51 Skill Levels and What They Mean wrote: Some skills have specialities – specialised forms of that skill. A
character picks a speciality when he gains level 1 in a skill with
specialities.
But under Skills on page 52 it does say he can instead...
I think you are reading too much into the "can" here, it just covers the skills where there are no specialisms, e.g. recon, where you would just take the gain for the whole skill, as well as skills with specialisms. More usually, you become more specialised in a specialism within the overall skill, e.g. slug rifle 1 will not increase your ability with a shotgun, which will remain at 0 (still worth having).

Alternatively, if you want to continue splitting hairs, you could interpret the "can" to mean that characters can choose not to gain a level in a skill. :roll:

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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:43 am

All the editions of Traveller have some ambiguity in their rules. And those rules are stated twice in different ways, which doesn't help at all sometimes. :)

My printing of Mongoose Traveller has a broken flowchart on page 5. But the CharGen rules (and their order) are stated more thoroughly again in the book.
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Re: Skills specialistaion - what is the point?

Postby FreeTrav » Sat Jun 01, 2013 6:32 pm

I observe that the majority of answers to the OP's question center on the rules, though one poster did provide a real-world example of specialization. But nobody has, in my view, actually answered the OP's question. Here's my stab at it:

The point of skill specialization is to represent the differences in similar skills. Using Gun Combat as an example, the basics of gun combat are about aiming, firing, maintaining your weapon, etc., and when you can do that competently in a controlled environment (training), you get GC-0, which does not require specialization.

However, there are differences between various classes of weapons - a pistol has some differences from a long gun; a slug thrower has some differences from a laser weapon. You've gotten good with a laser rifle - a laser long arm. You didn't have to compensate for gravity pulling the slug down after it leaves the gun; you didn't have to compensate for wind; for all intents and purposes you don't need to "lead" your target; there's no recoil to speak of. You need to address all of those issues to use a slug rifle. Thus, you won't be as good with a slug rifle as you are with a laser rifle. Specialization in skills reflects this.

The same sorts of issues arise with virtually all 'specializable' skills, perhaps some more so than others. The specialization mechanism in the game rules isn't a perfect simulation of the reality. It can't be, because some of it depends on other factors - your intuition for the skill(s) in question, your intelligence, your education (not just how much, as represented by the stat, but the methods used and the specific knowledge(s) imparted), and so on.

It's entirely possible that because of some of those factors - innate intuition, intelligence, education, etc. - you might run across a person who is great with a slug rifle, and who turns out to be able to be a crack shot with a laser rifle after maybe a couple of hours of familiarization after an orientation. But those are always the exceptional cases, and would have to be 'house ruled' or 'ref discretion' in a game.
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