Today is a conversation that I am hesitant to start, but I think is worth the conversation. The reason why I am hesitant to start this conversation is that the line by line items that are being discussed are still in the initial review phase and are some of the most likely items to fluctuate between now and the feedback forms come in. Today I am talking about consolidating redundant skills.
Some skills are very useful, but only in very specific situations where the plot writers have incorporated the skill into the plots and modules they are releasing into the world. Some skills are incredibly useful on their own, mostly because they engage the ongoing aspects of the world during the majority of an event. Being able to swing a melee weapon is almost always useful when there is a fight and being able to heal someone else’s wounds is also very useful as well. Being able to identify the value of an object, not as useful.
There are also some skills that are divided across multiple skills that are unnecessary divisions for the sake of sub-dividing a skill into multiple costs.
Throwing + Throwing Javelins. The difference between these two skills is so small that there is no need for two separate skills to outline thrown damage and could be collapsed into “Thrown Weapons”. Turning these two skills into one allows for a wider arrange of physical representations, crafting options, and customization in the thrown weapons arsenal of a player.
Destroy Weapon+ Destroy Armor+ Destroy Shield + Break Weapon+ Break Armor+ Break Shield + Force Barricade can all be broken down into a single skill that is themed something like “SHATTER <Variable>” where the user can spend mind points, use whatever weapon they wish for doing their kool aid man impression and have the effect of “My thing breaks that thing”. This also turns three and a half pages of mechanics into less than one page.
Concentrated Fire – This skill is annoying in function. While the idea of being able to hit certain areas of a person is cool, when you are using a point based health system it offers you very little use other than to increase mind point costs to combining skills together and occasionally allow someone to juke that they are shooting their friends in the groin. This skill could be done away with all together and by adjusting the cost on skills such as Sniped Shot and Scatter Shot you could incorporate needed targeting into the call without Concentrated Fire.
Check Status+ Check Quality+ Analyze Compound+ Analyze Creature – These four skills get limited use and some players tend to work their asses off to do whatever they can to avoid having to use these skills. Looking at item cards, asking “how many punches can you take”, and other forms of meta-bending “I’m asking you a mechanics question, but couching it with in game talk so I’m not technically avoiding using a skill” sort of nonsense. Collapse all these skills together into a single “Analyze” or “Inspect” skill with variables and now the ability to inspect a person, object, creature, or currency is all under the same header.
Cover of Night+ Fade in a Crowd+ Vanish – All of these skills allow you to disappear under different variables of “When I used this people shouldn’t be able to see me”. The skill can be reworked to give a better explanation of when and how it can be used and all three of these skills could be collapsed into one skill.
There are others that should be consolidated as well, but even with this starting design shift concept we have turned 17 individual skills into 4 skills. This consolidation also changes roughly 8 single sided pages of mechanics into about 2 ½ single sided pages of mechanics. This consolidation not only makes the individual skills more useful, available across more lists, and creates a situation where less mechanics variables need to be remembered but also it allows us to introduce new skills and new professions into the same volume of “mechanics space”. The goal is to have 3 different variant means to interact with the same resultant effect for three different styles of role-play preference.
As an example of this concept of three, right now the only ways to gain produce in play (other than some prints) is via check-in while having the skill animal handling or by being a hunter using the skill hunters mark. A third option for producing produce, with a different mechanical and RP focus, should be introduced so that not everyone is completely reliant on Farmers. Herb production currently only reliably comes via Farming and occasionally via scrounging. A third means, such as a Gatherer profession, would allow players a different avenue to go down if they want to produce resources but don’t want to be a farmer or scavenger.
With skill consolidation this does mean that the total number of skills each Profession has will be reduced to a standardization of 10-12 skills instead of the 15 skills currently on each list. While this doesn’t mean a huge change for post Profession lists (since many of them have overlapping skills that will be consolidated) it does mean a rather large restructure for the non-psionic skills that are on the Psion list and an adjustment of the skills available on the Priest list and Assassin list. This will also mean that some defense skills that are only available on a limited number of lists will instead move to the Open List to allow for a rebalance (such as Mind Resist).