Thursday, December 13, 2012

CAMELOT Trigger - Ye Olde Skills

Should I rename Skills? On the one hand, this setting was for FATE Core, and the less hurdles between it and the core rules, the more people who would be willing to give the setting a shot. On the other hand, not all the Skills in the main list fit. I wrestled with this topic for a bit. I tweeted about it. I went into the Louis Wieland, Jr. Memorial Gaming Library to meditate upon the question. The answer presented itself to me in a shelf of blaze orange books.

Deadlands is one of the games where I own the entire line. One of the things I loved about the game was the flavor. All the skills dropped the "g" at the end. It's shootin' not shooting. The Edges and Hindrances were also dripping with sauce. Your character is not obese. He's a Big 'Un.  Your character doesn't have a temper. She's Mean As A Rattler. That flavor goes a long way to get players into the spirit of the game.

Aspects do this in FATE for the characters. Taking an Aspect like Master Swordsman is good, but taking an Aspect like God of the Twelve Blades, Scarred By None defines a lot about the world and your character's place in it. The Skill list is the foundation those Aspects built upon. A world where Swagger is a skill is different from one where Confidence exists. Synonyms matter.

Let's briefly look at the skills in CAMELOT Trigger and take a moment or two to discuss why they exist and how they differ from their Core counterparts.

  • Armour: This is the skill you use to pilot your giant robot. Naming this Skill also helped me to answer an important question - what are the mecha called in the setting? Using the English spelling was a perfect fit, letting it stand out when talking about regular armor.
  • Blast (Shooting): This skill was originally Archery, but Fred Hicks gave me a good piece of advice: "I dig 'reinforce Camelot through skill names' as a design goal, but it also has to support 'reinforce giant stompy robots through skill names', somehow, too -- or at least not run counter to it." Giant stompy robots blast things. And their pilots do too.
  • Chivalry (Empathy): Honor is an important thing to knights. When they read people, one of the important things they want to find out is if the other person is also honorable. Chivalry can be used to suss out Aspects related to honor (or lies) as well as how well people take it when you are being honest.
  • Cunning (Deceit): Honor is important to knights, but so is winning. This isn’t just deftly navigating the courts with a silver tongue. This is also tricky tactics, dirty fighting and the ends justifying the means.
  • Daunt (Intimidation): Talking trash is an important tool in the knight’s toolkit. That can mean anything from an intimidating yell to telling your opponent about all the knights you’ve beaten before. Either one can daunt an opponent, which means you can win the battle without firing a shot.
  • Devotion(Will): Devotion to something – love, faith, honor, family – is what keeps a knight fighting when her arms are heavy and her body is bloodied. It also keeps him from being tempted to do the wrong thing. That’s why Devotion is what they use to resist mental stress
  • Household (Resources): Knights have to pay for the maintenance of their armour. Most of this money comes from their household. Where does the armour get stashed when the knight isn’t questing? Having a little extra wealth to throw around beyond your upkeep is also useful for solving other problems.
  • Inquisition (Investigation): A slight tweak from the core skill. Knights don’t investigate. But they do inquire.
  • Intrigue (Rapport): Navigating the world of courts is tricky business. Rapport is more about being personable. Intrigue is about knowing how to act sociably. And how to get what you want politely.
  • Larceny (Burglary): I could have left Burglary alone, but I wanted to expand it to include not just low skills but also knowing who to talk to to do dirty deeds dirt cheap.
  • Lineage (Contacts): A knight's bloodline is important. Most of her contacts are going to come through relations or associates of those relations
  • Lore: A straight port from Core. But stunts allow for knowledge specializations.
  • Mark (Notice): Another slight tweak for some delicious flavor.
  • Melee (Fighting): Melee is more old school and distinct from Blast
  • Pilot: A straight port from Core. Driving anything not Armour.
  • Skulking (Stealth):Skulking applies to sneaking about and looking unobtrusive. Pretending to he a commoner is a common element in knight stories, so I widened this skill.
  • Smithy (Crafts): Mostly repairing technology, but also for the connotation of building things with heavy metals. 
  • Stoutness (Physique): Another slight tweak for some delicious flavor.
  • Vigor (Athletics): Another slight tweak for some delicious flavor.

The list is not set in stone. It's a fine line between wonderful flavor and accessibility. Please drop me a line @robowieland on Twitter or leave a comment below if you have any thoughts.