Friday, August 28, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 29. Ride


I play a mash up of BX and AD&D. Both systems introduced the idea of skills, but other than a vague mention, did not elaborate. In BX and AD&D there was the idea that characters sometimes came from a different background and would have some of the abilities a professional, skilled laborer. Exactly how that worked was unclear. AD&D did have a list of professional hirelings, but didn't give any statistics. Unearthed Arcana brought in a fleshed out version of weapon proficiency and mastery, but didn't spell that out. 

In order to correct that for my campaigns, I wrote a book called "Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners" which provides over 50 different professional "classes" you can use with characters. 

Obviously, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what characters can and can't do. However, I never meant to create or even utilize campaign specific skills. For example, ride or swim. 

A campaign takes place with in a particular setting and that setting needs to have some default skills. Like ride. All characters know how to do it, just like swimming. Skills should be an enhancement, not a detriment. An ability to do more, not less. Now, if my setting was in space, perhaps characters would not know how to swim or ride ride a horse. That makes sense, but then again, I wouldn't expose the party to a horse ride by a lake because they're astronauts.

But if they are crew of the Firefly, obviously they know how to ride a horse through water while wearing a space suit. Skills like ride should always be an enhancement, something creative and interesting that makes the session "different", while not posing a barrier to play. 

I think where this gets gummed up is when a skill is presented as a "get out of puzzle" event. Yes, skills solve problems but shouldn't ever provide a dice roll to get out of a particular situation. That is "gotcha gaming" and I dislike that style of play. (Click here to listen to my rant against Tomb of Horrors, the ultimate gotcha gaming experience.) 

World building is hard, sometimes you have to give the players a free ride, as dictated by the setting. It only makes sense. 

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