Follow Up to I Perceive a Problem

As luck would have it, shortly after I published I Perceive A Problem, game designer Robin Laws wrote an example that I think exemplifies the idea – far better than I could.

He wrote this with regards to his new system for the Storyscape[1] game.

"Well, one of the neat things about Storyscape is that the skills and abilities are decoupled from the attributes.

For example, let’s say your character has the Parachute skill, and:

  • you’ve bailed out of a skycar and you’re plummeting through a refinery complex… and it’s crucial that you avoid the plasma vents. You might use Agility + Parachute.
  • you’re investigating a possible homicide, and you want to know if the victim’s parachute was packed correctly. You might use Reasoning + Parachute.
  • you’re Indiana Jones, and the pilot has just bailed out with the last parachute, leaving you with nothing but some crates of chickens, a kid, a showgirl, and an emergency raft. You might use Creativity + Parachute.

This also allows us to have different sorts of people use skills in different sorts of ways. For example, many games hook Intimidation to Strength, which makes sense for the sort of gorilla-like thug you see in old movies. But what about people like Adelai Niska from Firefly? He’s not particularly strong (as far as we can tell), but he’s all sorts of intimidating, largely due to his Influence. USMC Drill Instructors might tie their form of Intimidation to Presence, and the guy who stares at you while holding his hand over a flame might roll Constitution + Intimidation. And I don’t even want to think about the potential horrors suggested by the person who uses Creativity + Intimidation."

I think that this is a great treatise on what I was referring to, the idea that your strong attributes can be used in multiple situations easily and makes skills much more versatile and useful.

  1. A promising Kickstarter that was unfortunately canceled.  ↩