Handling Skill Advancement

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Zen Infidel
Weasel
Posts: 44
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:05 am

Handling Skill Advancement

Postby Zen Infidel » Mon Dec 31, 2012 8:14 am

I'm curious how skill advancement works in other's games. From the rulebook, it states that characters can always work on improving skills, but it takes time. This seems like it could become very confusing for the referee in a long campaign if all of your players' characters are training skills all the time. Has anyone found other ways that work well to handle skill increases?
User avatar
ShawnDriscoll
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2969
Joined: Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:13 pm

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Dec 31, 2012 8:17 am

Make the players role-play their training, so the Ref doesn't have to manage it. Gives the Ref time to do other tasks.
rust
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 5941
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:17 pm
Location: Sonthofen / Germany

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby rust » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:34 am

I classified the various skills as "easy" (e.g. Steward), "average"
(e.g. Mechanic) or "hard" (e.g. Advocate), and the time required
to learn or improve a skill depends entirely on the skill's classifi-
cation and the skill level the character wants to learn, not on the
number of skill levels in other skills the character already has.
The only other requirement besides sufficient time is the availa-
bility of the right materials for learning or practicing the skill.
The bookkeeping of the learning time is done by the players for
their characters and by me for nonplayer characters.
User avatar
SSWarlock
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1052
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Fulacin/Rhylanor/Spinward Marches

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby SSWarlock » Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:41 am

What rust said... :)

It may seem a bit complex but it's really not once the players have been through it once or twice and it removes any confusion as to what each skill requires. The key to any skill improvement scheme is to have a built-in limitation that stops one player character from becoming so highly skilled that having other PCs/NPCs in the campaign becomes irrelevant.

Edit: Another skill improvement method that has proven useful in short campaigns is to have each player keep track of which skills they've use successfully during a gaming session. At the end of the session, they can choose one of those skills and try to roll above that skill's current level on 1D6 after adding in the characteristic modifier normally associated with that skill. If they succeed in the roll, the skill increases by one.

This method will increase low skills quickly while maintaining a flexible "ceiling" on skill level that becomes more difficult to get through as a skill increases. It also allows players to choose how they want their character to improve and it rewards "gifted" characters by providing them a method for achieving rarified levels of skill.

Some people like this method, some don't. I've found it useful when I want to run a "heroic" campaign for players who have generated characters with low skill levels.
Sir Dhaven Hevelin, IOD, Baronet of Fulacin
Owner/Captain - S.S. Warlock

Playing Traveller/RQ/D&D since 1977
rust
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 5941
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:17 pm
Location: Sonthofen / Germany

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby rust » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:04 pm

By the way, in my current setting I am a bit stingy when it
comes to skill learning and improvement, the times required
look like this:

Easy Skills (e.g. Drive, Steward)
Level 0: 1 month
Level 1: 3 months
Level 2: 6 months
Level 3: 12 months

Average Skills (e.g. Mechanic, Trade)
Level 0: 3 months
Level 1: 6 months
Level 2: 12 months
Level 3: 24 months

Hard Skills (e.g. Advocate, Science)
Level 0: 6 months
Level 1: 12 months
Level 2: 24 months
Level 3: 48 months

So in order to become a Level 3 Mechanic the character has
to spend a total of 45 months, and during all of that time he
needs access to a workshop or a similar facility. Becoming a
Level 3 Advocate requires no specific material beyond books,
learning programs and thelike, but it takes a total of 7 1/2
years to get there.
mr31337
Banded Mongoose
Posts: 218
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:49 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Contact:

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby mr31337 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:39 pm

Rust's system is very similar to my own, although I hadn't considered having 'easy, medium and hard' skill difficulties, I may have to borrow that idea. I allow the effect roll of the skill currently being trained to adust the number of weeks of study.
User avatar
SSWarlock
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1052
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Fulacin/Rhylanor/Spinward Marches

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby SSWarlock » Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:12 pm

mr31337 wrote:Rust's system is very similar to my own, although I hadn't considered having 'easy, medium and hard' skill difficulties, I may have to borrow that idea. I allow the effect roll of the skill currently being trained to adust the number of weeks of study.
And I strongly recommend rust's system for any long term campaign. By "long-term", I mean a couple of years real-time. The quick-and-dirty method I posted in the Edit of my original post is exactly that..quick and dirty. It's at its best in short heroic campaigns but can really overbalance a longer campaign unless the campaign grows to be mostly epic adventures. Which is very easy to do in the middle of the Fifth Frontier War. :wink:
Sir Dhaven Hevelin, IOD, Baronet of Fulacin
Owner/Captain - S.S. Warlock

Playing Traveller/RQ/D&D since 1977
Egil Skallagrimsson
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 838
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 6:59 pm

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby Egil Skallagrimsson » Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:34 pm

We use the RAW for skill advancement, when/if the PCs want to take weeks out to develop a particular skill set, also allow the acquisition of one level 0 skill every 2 years, and one level 1 skill ( or addition to existing skill) every 4 years if it can be justified of what the character does or is likely to do (e.g, if they fire slug rifles a lot, can gain an extra level, if they help out with ship mainenance, will eventually gain Mechanic 0 ). However, we do use the "unofficial" level 4 cap to all skills. In practice, we concerntrate on role play, not building up super heros, and have only used the RAW skill advancement when a PC has needed to acquire a very specific skill (computers or deception) for a very specific reason ...

Pretty mean really, but that is deliberate, the PCs will spend much of their down time maintaining their existing skills, carrying out routine tasks etc.

I am thinking about capping the total number of skills and skill levels a PC can have, as a function of int, something along the lines of a maximum total of skill levels of Intx2, and allowing an additional number of 0 level skills up to Int. The aging process in the raw stops skill levels becoming excessive, but I am currently developing a different campaign background where some races will be quite long lived, don't want to see too many PCs with skill level 4 in every department, though I suppose the same could occur if anagathics are common place, a lot of very highly skilled PCs and NPCs.

Egil
Alles fur Gram - Official motto of Gram's 3rd Grenadier Regiment
Wein, Weib und Gesang - Unofficial motto of Gram's 3rd Grenadier Regiment
CosmicGamer
Greater Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 1181
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2008 2:45 am
Location: Central DE

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby CosmicGamer » Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:38 pm

My online games are typically only an adventure or a few strung together. Typicaly not enough time passes that skills would be gained.
ShawnDriscoll wrote:role-play their training.
For our in person campaign, skills gained are based on role play and not just the characters saying "in my spare time I'm...".

For us,there is actual schooling since we have played military characters or characters that work for the government and sometimes they get a training assignment. This is often several months of doing nothing but learn from professional instructors.

It's typical for crew on our ships to cross train. The doctor was so proud of what she had learned about engineering and would tell everyone who came aboard how she helped install the new plumbing and wiring when our common area was remodeled.

At some point the GM might decide players have done enough to warrant an increase in skill or a new level 0 skill.
Saladman
Stoat
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:30 am
Location: down on the West coast

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby Saladman » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:40 pm

SSWarlock wrote:And I strongly recommend rust's system for any long term campaign. By "long-term", I mean a couple of years real-time. The quick-and-dirty method I posted in the Edit of my original post is exactly that..quick and dirty. It's at its best in short heroic campaigns but can really overbalance a longer campaign unless the campaign grows to be mostly epic adventures. Which is very easy to do in the middle of the Fifth Frontier War. :wink:
That's a point that can't be over-emphasized. The shorter the campaign, the more you can give out skills the way other games do. The longer you want to run, the more you need to scale things back towards the rate from regular career terms.

In the past I've used training by the book. The diminishing returns are kind of arbitrary, but at a meta-game level it allows characters unlucky in generation to catch up partially, which is a plus for me. In any event I never found it too burdensome - but I'm a guy who doesn't mind the trading game or ship construction, so mileage may vary.

What I've only recently thought of, from thinking of what I'd do differently from Mercenaries' training skill, is just letting the players interact directly with their own career table. Just develop something unique to a single tramp ship, mercenary company or other group. So Service Skills would be whatever basic skills they would hypothetically teach a new recruit, one or more career specializations would be based on what skills they used during adventures, Advanced Education would be more difficult or academic skills someone had that they could teach, Personal Development could be filled out with stat gains and skills appropriate to their down time or carousing, etc. Then you just give them a roll at appropriate intervals, as much as one a year for active PCs, or by regular terms for downtime, or for npc extras if needed.

I've yet to test it, though, and it may actually be a hard sell compared to regular skill training.
User avatar
ShawnDriscoll
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2969
Joined: Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:13 pm

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:38 pm

CosmicGamer wrote:My online games are typically only an adventure or a few strung together. Typicaly not enough time passes that skills would be gained.
ShawnDriscoll wrote:role-play their training.
For our in person campaign, skills gained are based on role play and not just the characters saying "in my spare time I'm...".

For us,there is actual schooling since we have played military characters or characters that work for the government and sometimes they get a training assignment. This is often several months of doing nothing but learn from professional instructors.

It's typical for crew on our ships to cross train. The doctor was so proud of what she had learned about engineering and would tell everyone who came aboard how she helped install the new plumbing and wiring when our common area was remodeled.

At some point the GM might decide players have done enough to warrant an increase in skill or a new level 0 skill.
Good stuff. I also like introducing player characters to their NPC teachers that are going to make or break them. :)
rust
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 5941
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:17 pm
Location: Sonthofen / Germany

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby rust » Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:13 am

Saladman wrote: Just develop something unique to a single tramp ship, mercenary company or other group.
This seems similar to what I am doing for my settings. Each of
the settings has a unique skill list with the skills most useful for
that specific setting, and these are also the skills where it is ea-
sy for the characters to find the necessary resources and instruc-
tors to learn them. For example, in my water world colony set-
ting Diving and Seafarer are among the most useful skills, and it
is easy to get the necessary equipment and instruction to learn
them, while it is on the other hand nearly impossible to learn to
Drive a ground vehicle there.
Infojunky
Duck-Billed Mongoose
Posts: 2202
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 10:19 pm
Location: North of Center California

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby Infojunky » Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:51 am

Zen Infidel wrote:I'm curious how skill advancement works in other's games.
To be perfectly honest in the game I play in the only skills that gets practiced are Carousing and Streetwise. And skill progression isn't the goal.
Evyn
User avatar
locarno24
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3161
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2005 7:46 pm
Location: Wildly Variable

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby locarno24 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:23 am

To be perfectly honest in the game I play in the only skills that gets practiced are Carousing and Streetwise. And skill progression isn't the goal.
My lot start the same, but usually end up following this by practicing Gambler, Melee (Unarmed Combat), Athletics (Endurance) and Advocate, usually in that order.

Still, it's all experience, isn't it?
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
2330ADUSA1
Banded Mongoose
Posts: 236
Joined: Mon May 07, 2012 7:27 pm
Location: USA, NJ - East Coast

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby 2330ADUSA1 » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:42 pm

I find that my experience point system that is my own design works well. Any Adventure or playing session allows everyone to gain up to a total of 3-5 points. Now 1-2 of those points are from Roleplaying, thus the players tend to get like 2-4 pts per gaming session. It take a long time and increased number of points to be turned in to obtain every increased level of knowledge. Thus most folks only ever increase any one skill by 2-3 skill levels and that is over a great amount of time. Now I should point out that my longest lived campaign (same characters playing in the same game theme) was 7+ years. My systems (House rules) have worked quite well for me over the many years.
37+ yrs of RPGing, War Gamer, Table Top Minatures - Resin Space Minis
AD&D, D&D v2.5, D&D v3.5 & v3.75+ Pathfinder, Traveller, 2300 AD Traveller, Hero Systems v5R, Conan, Gama World, D100 Basic Roleplaying, D20 System. Anything SciFi
rust
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 5941
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:17 pm
Location: Sonthofen / Germany

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby rust » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:52 pm

Experience point systems usually work quite well, but my
players dislike them as too arbitrary because they make it
more difficult to plan the skill improvement since one does
not know how many experience points one will get in a cer-
tain amount of time. They therefore prefer fixed times en-
abling them to know when exactly the character reaches a
higher skill level.
Greylond
Mongoose
Posts: 163
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:53 am

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby Greylond » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:09 pm

Traveller is a different theme of RPG from most games. In Traveller your character is already a season and trained professional so the Skill Advancement is setup for that. Other RPGs are about starting young and building a Hero and thus have Skill Advancement systems for that style of play. Changing the Traveller Skill Advancement system beyond the given system so that the characters are constantly learning changes the Theme/Style of RPG.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, but as written giving Experience Points and allowing rapid skill advancement is outside of the play experience that Traveller is written to replicate.
User avatar
ShawnDriscoll
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2969
Joined: Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:13 pm

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:56 pm

As written, Mongoose Traveller is a fluke. It's too good. :)

I was recently made aware of the SCI-FI RuneQuest someone wrote based on Traveller. They added Action Points, Hit Points, and Hero Points to Traveller. And stripped out the CharGen. So now it's mediocre where most RPGs fall.
Greylond
Mongoose
Posts: 163
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:53 am

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby Greylond » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:33 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote:As written, Mongoose Traveller is a fluke. It's too good. :)
That's because it's based on the design concepts and philosophy of Classic Traveller.. ;)

Traveller is good at what it does. IMO, it's not a good game for a classic FRPG of young Heroes starting out to eventually become Great Heroes. Two different styles of play/genre there...
Jak Nazryth
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 795
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 5:13 am

Re: Handling Skill Advancement

Postby Jak Nazryth » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:38 pm

I have two different methods for gaining experience; training and doing.
Training is per the rule book.
But in a nod to all my GURPS playing, I also give my characters 1 experience point at the end of each game. They can accumulate experience points and spend them on stats and skills (tied to their roll-play and actions). The cost is based on the alternate point buy system at the end of the character generation chapter. In my experience you learn faster by actively engaging in an action when compared to “study/training”. You can train all you want in a simulator but pilots learn much faster when in actual dog fights.
They also like Libraries (High Guard?) which doubles their effective training time while in Jump Space. (They installed a library in their custom 300 ton armed merchant).
I also imposed a 3 term maximum limit on their character creation. I did not want a bunch of 50 year olds “retiring” from their regular jobs to go gallivanting across the galaxy… 8) So everyone was 30 or so years old when they started the game. A very good age to strike out on your own. The extra 1 point per game doesn’t seem to have any affect so far, and the players have grown to love it. In fact, all but 1 are used to RPG’s where xp’s are handed out anyway, so it’s natural to them.

I do like the idea of Rust’s easy/average/hard skill breakdown though. Might incorporate it. ;)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests