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Colonial Gothic Design Notes: Skill Costs

July 3, 2007

Previously I wrote about Colonial Gothic‘s skill system and how the skills are broad in what they encompass.

Today I want to talk about skill costs.

All skills in Colonial Gothic are tied to the Five Stats. This association gives you the Target Number to perform any task. If you are not skilled in a skill, your Target is lowered by -4, which then sets your Target Number.

To buy a Skill at Base Rank, it costs you Skill Points equal to the associated Stat.

For example, you want your Hero to be able to shoot firearms, so you decide to buy the skill Shoot. Shoot is associated with Nimble. You purchase the Shoot at its’ Base Rank, which is equal to your Hero’s Nimble 13 You plan on being a good shot with the musket, and want to be able to take out cultists pretty quickly. You feel that 13 is not a good enough stat to do this, so you buy two more Ranks in Shoot. Since each Rank in a Skill translates to one point, your new Shoot Rank will be 15, which now becomes the new Target for all of your Hero’s Shoot Tests. The total amount of points that you will spend, is equal to 13 for the Base Rank, plus 12 (6 x 2) to increase the Ranks by 2.

Now at first blush, the Skill costs look high. This is done for a couple of reasons.

First, the cost are high to better model the reality of the period. Unlike today, most colonists did not have a lot of free time to learn new things, and become well rounded. Society placed limits on a person.

Also, it is very important to keep in mind that nearly all skills can be used even if you are unskilled in it. Though this gives you a -4 to the Target Number, most Heroes will have have stats that are better than the average average colonist. When you factor in Faith (the ability of all Heroes, Villains and Creatures to call upon their Faith, to aid them in times of need), these penalties can be offset.

Look at it another way.

Anyone, regardless of skill level, can fire a musket, or throw a punch. They might not be good at, but with a little luck they could connect with a cultists jaw, or hit an advancing Redcoat with musket ball. Buying a Skill, means you want your Hero to be better than most in a certain skill.

Where the skill costs come into play are with Rituals. This is done purposely to get across the hidden nature of magic. Learning magic takes time, and in a society such as Colonial America, your Hero will not have the time devote to learning magic, as well as learning other skills. This is the trade off when it comes to magic. Your Hero can perform feats most colonist will never be able to, but they will not be as skilled in some other needed skills.

The skill cost is the one area were we really worked to ensure the balance of play was meet. The rule system allows all Heroes to perform most skill related tasks, taking a skill means you want your Hero to be better than most.

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