GreyGhostGames

"Skills and Special Skills" using "Experience Points"

Re: "Skills and Special Skills" using "Experience Points"

Yes, basically I was following the model of the even spacing between levels (such as you described more completely for Scale).  As you point out the ratios' values often differ from one Attribute to another, but are consistent within any given Attribute (such as Mass, Speed, Size).  With the limited three level characterization of Skills as Easy, Most, and Hard, I was suggesting that Easy skills are half as difficult to learn as Most skills and Hard skills are twice as difficult as Most skillls (by extension, Very Hard would be four times more difficult than Most, etc, if you wanted to increase the depth of the heirarchy of Skill Difficulty).  So, the buy-in cost of 1:2:4 EP to have a chance to advance would maintain that even ratio (instead of 1:2:3 which decreases the spacing between Most:Hard to only 1.5 more difficult).  As Knaight pointed out the possibility of failure (after the EP buy-in) actually makes the "expected cumulative cost" approximately triple between Easy and Most to achieve the same level.

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Re: "Skills and Special Skills" using "Experience Points"

I am still not quite getting it. You feel that it should be even harder to obatin the levels in the upper tier?

Skill Rating -- Cost -- Skill Level
Easy -- 1 EP -- Mediocre
Most -- 2 EP -- Poor
Hard -- 4 EP-- Terrible
Very Hard-- 8 EP -- Terrible-1

Does this chart explain what you are saying?

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Re: "Skills and Special Skills" using "Experience Points"

Yes. the chart captures what I am saying. 

Whether I believe that it would be better (more playable, more equitable) if Hard skills were more difficult to acquire might be unclear to even me.  I am bothered by the lack of symmetry as the skills are ranked into difficulty levels, but truthfully I am also puzzled by how to justify which level to assign to a skill.  My first reaction to your example set of skills was that using a gun (point-pull trigger) was easier than knowing how to fight effectively with a knive or unarmed combat, but you show hand-to-hand and knive as Easy and rifle, shotgun. and pistols as Most.  Maybe it is just that I was a Junior NRA member when I was 11 years old and never had a fistfight in my life.  As your intro said, this is not "Rules Lite".  The original cost system for character creation sets the same value to "buy" along a diagonal - i.e. up one difficulty level and down one level of proficiency, so your EP 1:2:3 scheme is consistent.

So, after much runaround, I think I now disagree with my symmetry argument.  There is an extra cost (not in Knaight's calculations) moving from a "regular" skill to a "special" skill in your proposal in the requirement to achieve the prerequisite lower level skill.

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Re: "Skills and Special Skills" using "Experience Points"

Well, I can see where you are coming from when you talk about the hand-to-hand combat skill being harder than the weapons skills. But you have to think of it this way. You trained yourself in weapons via the NRA and didn't train yourself in hand-to-hand combat via some sort of fighting technique in your life. If you had trained in the opposite you would probably be saying the opposite. I have trained in hand-to-hand combat and weaponry and I feel that it is harder to learn to shoot, at least to be good at it.

I guess you can also put into this equation which is more dangerous of a skill. I feel that weapons are more dangerous than hand-to-hand combat so it should be harder to learn due to the outcome.

I greatly appreciate your input and would like more. I will add the current list of my skills as of now. If you feel that something is over rated, under rated or just doesn't make sense please speak out. Or even if you would like some skills added and deleted.

-------------------
Combat Skills Table
-------------------
Hand-to-hand Combat - Skill (Easy: 1EP)
Knives - Skill (Easy: 1EP)
-- Throwing Knives - Special Skill (Most: 2EP) [Must be "Fair" in Knives]
Pistols - Skill (Most: 2EP)
-- Fast Draw - Special Skill (Hard: 3EP) [Must be "Mediocre" in Pistols]
-- Duel Wield Pistols - Special Skill (Hard: 3EP) [Must be "Mediocre" in Pistols]
Shotguns - Skill (Most 2EP)
Sub-Machine Guns - Skill (Most: 2EP)
Rifles - Skill (Most: 2EP)
Tactics - Skill (Most: 2EP)
-- Read Opponent - Special Skill (Hard: 3EP) [Must be "Poor" in Tactics]

----------------------
Survival Skills Table
----------------------
Foraging - Skill (Easy: 1EP)
Fleeing - Skill (Easy: 1EP)
Hunting - Skill (Easy: 1EP)
-- Tracking - Special Skill (Most: 2EP) [Must be "Fair" in Hunting]
First Aid - Skill (Most: 2EP)
-- Combat Life Saver - Special Skill (Hard: 3EP) [Must be "Mediocre" in First Aid]
Moving Quietly - Skill (Most: 2EP)
-- Stealth - Special Skill (Hard: 3EP) [Must be "Mediocre" in Moving Quietly]
-- Thievery - Special Skill (Hard: 3EP) [Must be "Mediocre" in Moving Quietly]
Navigation - Skill (Most: 2EP)

----------------------
Professional Skills Table
----------------------
Cooking - Skill (Easy: 1 EP)
Fishing - Skill (Easy: 1EP)
Mining - Skill (Easy: 1 EP)
Gambling - Skill (Easy: 1EP)
Alchemy - Skill (Most: 2EP)
-- Poison Craft - Special Skill (Hard: 3EP) [Must be "Mediocre" in Alchemy]
Gunsmithing - Skill (Most: 2 EP)
Armorsmithing - Skill (Most: 2 EP)
Engeneering - Skill (Hard: 3 EP)

----------------------
Social Skills Table
----------------------
Barter - Skill (Easy: 1 EP)
Lie - Skill (Easy: 1 EP)
Interrogate - Skill (Most: 2EP)
Intimidate - Skill (Most: 2EP)
Negotiate - Skill (Most: 2EP)
Persuade - Skill (Most: 2EP)
-- Con - Special Skill (Hard: 3EP) [Must be "Mediocre" in Persuade]
--

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Re: "Skills and Special Skills" using "Experience Points"

Intuitively, I am willingness to accept the dangerousness (to self) of learning the skill as a factor in determining the "difficulty" level, but danger to others probably only matters in a scrupulous society where the student would have obstacles to being able to find a tutor willing to provide the training.  As I said, as a preteenager (in the 60's before children were covered in bubble-wrap prior to be allowed to play in their backyards), I had little barrier to learning the basics to handling, loading, and firing a rifle as a youth activity in the Junior NRA and Boy Scouts.  Similarly archery was introduced to me as a sports as a youth.  Although I learned to use and maintain the edge on knives and axes at about that same age, nobody discussed nor demonstrated knife-fighting with me as a combat skill or a source of competitive entertainment.  At the beginner steps, there was little risk I would hurt myself with a rifle (upon reflection decades later there is great deal more risk to others around me if I learned poorly the etiquitte and safety rules), but, in my terrified reaction, self-taught (who would tutor them?) knife-fighting sixth graders are going to get hurt before they get good.  As you said, different childhood experiences color how we evaluate the same skills.

When I was cogitating yesterday on what could be the underlying measure of the "learning difficulty" of a variety of skill areas, I considered "earliest age" when an individual might normally have an opportunity and ability to learn the basics.   If the "average" (Most) skill is something that can be taught to the averagely intelligent/interested high schooler (a freshman at age 15), then a skill one Scale lower (Easy) might be within the comprehension of an average 10-year old to reasonably achieve the default Mediocre level (with a Scale factor of 1.5 between levels).   If a kindergartener or younger can start to learn the skill (at Fair level default), that is a Very Easy skill.  In the other direction a Hard skill would have a minimum age to start to learn of about 22-23 (college graduate study level).  A Very Hard skill starts to come within reach after a college-equivalent education and ten years of realworld experience.

Using a 1.25 scale factor (with Most still what a high school freshman begins to learn), the starting age are:


DifficultyAgeTime to Learn new level
Very Easy< 9 years(Elementary school or earlier)2 years
Easy10-12 years old (Middle school)2.5 years
Most15-18 (High school)3.5 year
Hard19-22 (College)5 years
Very Hard23-28 (Graduate, Doctor)6-7 years

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Re: "Skills and Special Skills" using "Experience Points"

I love what this illustration that you have provided and I would have to say I agree with you. With that being said can you assist me with placing the Skill Levels with the Skills that I have provided above?

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Re: "Skills and Special Skills" using "Experience Points"

Jharius II wrote:

Well, I can see where you are coming from when you talk about the hand-to-hand combat skill being harder than the weapons skills. But you have to think of it this way. You trained yourself in weapons via the NRA and didn't train yourself in hand-to-hand combat via some sort of fighting technique in your life. If you had trained in the opposite you would probably be saying the opposite. I have trained in hand-to-hand combat and weaponry and I feel that it is harder to learn to shoot, at least to be good at it.

Regarding this, personal aptitude tends to be highly variable. I'm not particularly trained with either firearms or hand to hand combat, the first I have been taught the basics and safety, the second I've picked up, and I would say that firearms come easier. Others in the same situation say differently, and its personal aptitude.

To use an example that better suits me, as an academic I take a bunch of classes. Based entirely on my experiences I would call math an easy skill, the higher levels take a while to obtain, but its reasonably easy to learn high school material, basic integral and derivative calculus, basic differential equations, basic set theory, etc (strictly speaking I'm four years ahead in math, and a highschool senior. Which means that math has split all over the place, and treating it as one skill at this point is sketchy, but it should serve.) A friend of mine would disagree, stating that even algebra and geometry should be hard skills, as she isn't very good at math. She would classify foreign languages as easy skills, and I'd disagree hugely. I put more work into Spanish than all my other classes combined, and it still eludes me.

Other Topics
Regarding my comparison between legendary and mediocre, the problem is what those terms mean. I consider getting to a legendary easy skill being harder than getting to a mediocre hard skill for the simple reason that legendary means you are one of the best, and regardless of how easy it is to pick up a skill very few make it. Part of this is that I've long since mapped the Fudge scale to standard deviation, while still considering Fair professional level, which means that anyone legendary is 4 standard deviations beyond the average professional. It should not be easier to become one of the .002% of people who've done that than to get basic competence in a "hard" skill. That is solved if it always takes 1 experience to make a skill attempt, as it is still harder to actually improve a skill. I can practice Spanish as easily as I can practice differential equations, but I'm going to get a lot further practicing the second, as simulated by 1 experience per skill attempt.

The [-] die.

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Re: "Skills and Special Skills" using "Experience Points"

One wonders about the equivalence of a Legendary Easy skilled phenom versus the exceptionalness of a Legendary Hard skilled ultra-elite.  There are certainly more Good Marksmen (Most) than Good Subatomic Physicists (Hard) in the real world.  There are probably more Great Marksmen than Good Subatomic Physicists, but the Fudge character creation scheme would expend the same number of Skill points to confer either of those skill-levels.  A Legendary Walker (Easy) would as "expensive" as a Superb Marksmen and a Great Subatomic Physicist (albeit Legendary skill-levels are not typically allowed during character creation).  Verbally, a Legendary Walker might sound as impressive as a Legendary Marksman (as Knaight's argument suggests), but maybe folks are much less likely to be awed by the guy who can walk 24/7, awake or asleep, than the rifleman who can shoot 20 clay pigeon simultaneously launched before any hit the ground.  But, as Knaight says, should people be as impressed with a character who works himself up to be a Good Marksmen (Knaight can provide the math, but I would guess about 65%-ile of all person's with riflemanship skills) as with the Legendary Walker who concentrated as much effort (in the Skill-EP proposed system) in attaining his skill-level?

Now, I am beginning to understand Jharius' factor of "danger" as part of the equation to setting the skill-difficulty level.  Perhaps "impact" would be a more generalized concept in describing the degree to which the possession of a skill (or a skill-level, to discuss below, I hope) can affect people and events around the person applying the skill.  I am not sure it would change the cognitive difficulty in learning the skill (or the somatic training of muscles and reflexes), but it might have an effect as the learner moves up in ability (and impact) in finding a source of information about "how to be even better".  Is it axiomatic that someone needs to learn from somebody who knows more or be self-taught only by time-consuming trial-and-error experimentation to eliminate the 90% of the "trials" that do not work (better)?

For discussion below, let me introduce some terms formally to reference the axes of the tradtional Fudge Skill table.  Skill-Difficulty is the Easy-Most-Hard scale for the skill areas.  Skill-Ability is the Terrible-Superb levels for attainment that a character might achieve over the course of their life learning/training.  Below, I discuss the possible connection between Skill-Breadth which defines how generalized to specialized skill areas are (related to the heirarchial arrangements of skills in Depths).  Finally (maybe), Learning Stage refers to the amount (number of Ability levels) a character has achieved from the most elementary (default) to the most advanced possible. 

Knaight has working out the distribution from Terrible to Legendary as a percentile of characters with that Ability level, under the assumption that Fair is centered on the median (50%-ile).  But, as in the table at the bottom of this entry, let's reconfigure the Ability-Difficulty display by introducing the Stage of Learning with the default at the "Beginner" level for somebody who attempted to learn something about the skill (before the moment when the character is attempting to use the skill, or perhaps has "learned for experience" (self-taught) because he has had some instructive previous trial-and-error attempts in this area).  For an Easy skill, the Beginner is almost immediately able to perform an Easy skill with average Ability (Fair).   It does not take much more learning (three levels) to get to a 95%-ile Superb level of that Easy skill (which the chart suggests the character might even be able to "earn a professional living" doing some Easy skill so spectacularly that society would "pay" him to do it).  One of the insights that this display provides is not only is the default Ability level of skill raised as the Difficulty drops, but also the upper limit of the "utility" of the skill to accomplish something extraordinary and worthwhile to society diminishes.  How many Professional Superb Walkers would society support before it has saturated its need for marathon Walkers?  At some point, the character who has concentrated his learning on Walking is going to need to focus on learning on some more Difficult sub-discipline (Walking Backwards, Walking Asleep, Walking in the Dark) to interest the uniqueness and perhaps utility of his skill.  (BTW: Walking is more likely to be a Very Easy skill since nearly all "beginners" at less than two years old and nearly everyone is 95%-ile (with some subdiscipline learning in Running, Hopping, and Skipping) by the time they enter nursery school).

So, in the proposed Skill-EP system, moving up a Difficulty level is the click up from a "regular" skill to a "special" skill.  In Fudge discussion of skills, there is a concept of breadth of the skill area definitions (or perpendicularly the skill depth) in which the narrower the definitions of the skills, the more Skill points the player has to select (and assign training levels) during character creation.  I.e. Broad (Animal Skills) gets 15, Moderate (Animal Care) gets 30, and Narrow (Veterinary) gets 60 (aah, there is the doubling of cost I have instinctively been wanting).  Character creation  could always use 60 points, but  buy skill-Ability levels at the rates: Broad skill-level costs 4 points, a Moderate costs 2 points, and a Narrow costs 1 point.  Conversely, once the character is created, the EP-based learning cost more for a more specialized (narrower, more Difficult) skill Ability level. 

So, if it costs more, why specialize?   If Conrad has Great Ability in Easy (Broad) "Knives", how well can he perform in the Most (Moderate) subdisciplines to throw a knive, to fight hand-to-hand with a knife, to maintain a knive, or to evaluate the quality/suitability of a knife for a particular task?   Is he Great at all of them?  During character creation, the player expends 6 Skill points to advance the Moderately defined Skill area three levels from the Easy default of Fair to Great.  For the same character creation skill points expenditure, only one subdiscipline would be raised four levels to Great, two brought to the default Mediocre, and others remain as untrained Poor level (instead of None because the character has some cross-training in related subdisciplines).  Once a GM has elected to use a multi-breadth Skill definition (such as the proposed EP-learning system uses), this question of the motivation for specialization needs to be addressed. 

The simplest reason that occurs to me is that some subskills are (ruled by the GM or written Skill definition system) unavailable until the learner reaches an appropriate Learning Stage in the more generalized skill area one Difficulty (Breadth) level down.  I.e throwing knives is not taught (or self-taught, try to stop them!) to Beginners in the arts of Combat-Knife; the learner must be at least an Apprentice (Easy Ability=Good) before Combat-Knife-Throwing can be learned at the default (Poor) level (but a Beginner Combat-Knife learner will have Untrained (Mediocre) Ability in all Most subskills) but Untrained (Terrible) in sub-subskills (Hard) skills (Combat-Knife-Throwing-Blindfold/Dark).  But once the character does achieve Beginner-Combat-Knife-Throwing, the character is permitted to advance that special skill to the level of the more generic skill area and beyond.  So, Conrad can have Apprentice (+2 Easy learning) Combat-Knife (Good) with Specialist (+5 Most learning) Combat-Knife-Throwing (Great) skills. 

Implicit in such a system is what subskills of Combat-Knife are advanced or achieved at the character's current Learning Stage to have that Ability level.  Such as, Beginner knife-fighters learn to handle a variety of knives, when to use them, and how to maintain them (at Fair level), Apprentices improve those abilities and add defensive and offense movements involved in engaging an opponent (all to the Good level),  Journeyman are introduced to all Most subdisciplines at the Beginner level (Poor) in addition to improving their Apprentice skills (to Great), and finally a Professional Combat-Knife fighter (as high as a character can achieve with an Easy skill) has Beginner skill levels in all Hard sub-subdisciplines and achieves Apprentice level in all Most sub-disciplines and is Superb in the “fundamental skills” of handling, maintaining, and engaging an opponent in one-on-one combat.  But if there are Very Hard subdisciplines (Combat-Knife-Dual Handed-Underwater-Blindfold/Dark), even the Professional knife fighter is going to be at the Untrained level (None) unless he chose when he reached Apprentice level of Combat-Knife-Dual Handed-Underwater to learn to the Beginner (Terrible) level.

Now, why does a character become Legendary?  People tell tales about the time (or the many times) a character performed some particular extraordinary feat that nearly nobody else could do.  The presumption (by the public) is that the character could probably “do it” again.  Annie Oakley is not Legendary in Rifle because she could do (better) anything that a Rifleman could do; she was Legendary because she was a Legendary Master of the Hard skill of Entertainment/Sports-Firearms-Rifle-Sharpshooting performer (and she had very good PR).  If the proposed EP-learning system (or Fudge GMs in general) limited “Legendary” to Hard or above skills, this would both motivate why a character specializes and limit (eliminate) the abuse of a Legendary Easy-skill character being able to do anything in the Broad category of the skill area at a exceptional Ability level.

Okay, this has rambled for quite a while, so let me present the aforementioned table and save my comments specific to structuring the skill sets Jharius presented for input in this context.  Basically, I think that the mechanics of the proposed EP-learning system can be applied to any skill-tree a GM wants to use in a single consistent scheme that defines defaults, upper limits, and prerequisites based on that heirarchy.  I have some doodles I want to think about and refine if there is any interest in pursuing this line of thought.


Learning Stage        Very Easy (Archetypical)    Easy (Broad)        Most (Moderate)        Hard    (Narrow)    Very Hard    (Esoteric)   
Untrained        Fair        Mediocre        Poor        Terrible        None       
Beginner-Novice        Good        Fair        Mediocre        Poor        Terrible       
Apprentice-Acolyte        Great        Good        Fair        Mediocre            Poor   
Journeyman    Superb        Great        Good        Fair            Mediocre       
Professional                Superb        Great        Good        Fair       
Specialist                        Superb    Great        Good   
Expert                         Superb    Great   
Master                                Legendary    Superb   

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Re: "Skills and Special Skills" using "Experience Points"

Regarding the gradual split of skills as brought up by Vermonster, other systems may warrant evaluation. Most notably this is handled exceptionally well within the Cortex system, which ranks skills by polyhedral dice. Up to d6 one buys broad skills, following which they would buy specializations. Conceptually this transfers easily to Fudge, with specific skills growing out of varying levels of more general skills. Using Annie Oakley as an example again, that would be portrayed in this system as something along the lines of:
Firearms (Cutoff one, probably Fair)
Firearms Specialization: Rifle (Cutoff two, probably Great)
Rifle Specialization: Sharpshooting (Actual level, Superb seems high enough.)

What the easy-most-hard classification does is provides costs, with easy skills naturally capped by the simple virtue of highly specialized skills not being easy.

The [-] die.

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Re: "Skills and Special Skills" using "Experience Points"

I am attempting to get back to this topic, but the first attempt to upload a message produced an unreadble message.  I have editted it out of existence with this overwrite because I cannot see a means to "recall" a forum post.  Is there such a command function?

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