Thursday, January 2, 2014

Skill Permissions

There's been a lot of talk on the G+ Fate Core group regarding skills, skill lists and skill permissions. I thought I'd post the blurb about skill permissions I am adding to the rules for my space opera setting. 

When your character concept indicates that you would not know what you are trying to achieve, the passive difficulty will be 2. When your concept indicates that you might know what you are trying to achieve, the passive difficulty might be 1. When your concept is clear that you do know there would be no passive difficulty to your roll. The passive difficulty should never be more than 2 in this respect. The difficulty may go higher, but that would be the passive difficulty to everyone because of whatever story reason is needed to make the task harder. 

One such example would be Science, the skill encompasses all aspects of science. This does not necessarily mean that your character is both a master of the biosciences and astonomy at the same time. Your aspects will indicate where your expertise lies exactly when it comes to the broad coverage of skills. If you had an aspect such as Alien Cyberneticist for example and you had to roll for something related to cybernetics, your roll would be standard. However, should you need to roll to calculate the optimal trajectory of a starship (also Science) in order to avoid any legal entanglements, your passive difficulty might be 1 or 2, depending on how the GM feels your character is knowledgeable in that particular field. This passive difficulty is entirely based on the aspects of your character.

A couple of other examples follow:

A Cyborg Gun For Hire is most definitely knowledgeable in the repair and maintenance of his projector and armour. However now he must roll Technology (or whatever skill you use) in order to hack a lock which is blocking his way. He is cybernetic in nature, but his concept is a for-hire soldier and the passive difficulty might only be 1. Fortunately for him, a Retired Assassin is with him who is an expert at opening ways. The Assassin would not have any passive opposition on their Technology roll because of their concept.

A Drunkard Mercenary has obtained a datapad with data related to his investigation. Since the mercenary is not that adept at combing data for information, his Investigation passive difficulty might be 2. He decides to take it to an Egg-Head Hacker he knows. The hacker will also roll Investigation when combing the data, without any passive opposition.

In summary, the intent, the skill being used and by whom it is being used must be evaluated to determine whether the person using the skill is competent in the action being taken. If they are not, then they will have a harder time than someone who is knowledgeable in that area. Aspects are your indicator on who the character is and what they should know really well, what they might know, and what they just wouldn't know.  Character aspects should make that determination fairly simple in most instances. If unsure, let the table decide which of the 3 categories it falls into. Fate Core has a smaller skill list, and skill bloat in your game is bad (yes, I abandoned my Skill Fields approach a while ago). With less skills and more broad skills, looking at who is doing what can help you make better use of skills and keep things flowing in a realistic way.