Friday, December 5, 2014

What Does Your System Focus On?

To find out what aspects a system focuses on you don't have to look much further than the skills chapter. Why is this? Because the breakdown of skills will tell you where and what the developer expects people to be most interested in.

For example, an L5R character I have right now has - among other things - 5 skills at rank 1. Four of those skills cover different types of fighting. He can fight unarmed, with knives, with staves, and with a bow. The fifth skill covers dancing.

Think about that for a second. With one skill rank my character is skilled (not highly, but that skill rank could be anywhere from 1 to 10 to cover how skilled you want) and is capable of doing any kind of dance that exists in Rokugan. Priestly dances for festivals, court dances, clan specific dances, samurai dances, peasant dances, eta dances. In a modern day setting that skill would allow my character to break dance on the street, or compete in top level ball room dances.

On the other hand, my knives skill will only let my character fight with a knife. Make the blade long enough it becomes a short sword and the character has no idea. Take the knife out of the character's hand (pretend I don't have unarmed :) ) and the character, who could otherwise be one of the deadliest people in the world, is suddenly defenseless.

As an example in the other way, by default FATE has one skill for all melee fighting (Fighting) and one skill for all ranged attacks (Shooting) and that's it. Why? Because FATE, by default, is not as interested in the nuances and details of combat.

So what does your system focus on? Why does it focus there? Is that a meaningful choice for a character?

1 comment:

  1. My system of Dark Heresy 2e focuses on combat & investigation and I'm a big fan of this combo. The investigation part ensures plenty of role playing; you just can't get away from it. However, once you figure out what the heresy is & who's responsible…all hell breaks loose.