Amount of skills

After a few games of The Strange I feel characters start with too few skills. I feel they need more flesh in regards of "thinks they know".

IMHO, a lawyer shouldn't start, for example, with only "Skilled at Law" and "Skilled at pleasant social interactions". He could know some history, some art, maybe he was an accountant for a while, maybe he spent his youth swimming but then just didn't have time.

However I don't feel comfortable adding skill points to character creation, because "skilled" is already a high rank.

I have to decide between:
- Accepting this as a consequence of the speed advantage of having just unskilled, skilled and expert.
- Creating a category "lesser skills" with a list of things in which the character just has a +1 or +2


  • While I can't speak for the Strange, info remember there was something in Numénera that could cover this, spending experience, or was it a major effect, to get a bonus on something - the example was saying you have climbed these mountains before.

    Think of the characters as knowing a multitude of different topics, but the things they actually have skills in are things that are integral to the character, as a primary focus.

    I'd have to look up the above example I gave, though pretty sure it is a major/minor effect option, but that lets a player say what they are good at, outside of what is rolled.

    There are so many examples in fiction of where we, the audience, don't know a character can do something until it becomes central to the plot. This is something you may want to think about for a character. Rather than define all these things out right, add them as you go as major effect results. You can even write things that aren't at the level of skills, that you want to have your character be 'good' at, and use this list as something you can apply with this rule when you need/want to.

    To say it another way, if you define everything a character likes, can do well, all right away, then you may actually be feel more limited as a game progresses, as you will have such a narrow focus. Both player and GM's should see the character and game as works in progress, that are constantly being tweaked. I'm not saying don't plan a character somewhat, but don't over plan it.

    Finally, there is also the option to start with more experience, but as a cost. Perhaps your lawyer had a rival in school, or a judge that hates him. There are optional rules, at least in Numénera that play into this. I assume they will be in the other system books as well.
  • I like to borrow a page from Savage Worlds for stuff like this. The general advice there is "unless it's going to be significant at least every other game session, don't spend skill points for it."

    Instead of having a ton of fiddly knowledge skills, instead you just look at the character's background and say "yeah, it's reasonable you'd know that".

    For things like the "swimming as a youth" thing - in my opinion it's not worth a die bonus for. Cypher is a deliberately coarse grained system. Unless you're an actual athlete and in shape today, I wouldn't give you a bonus because you were on the swim team in high school. Those characters who honestly can't swim I'd give a deficiency in swimming to instead.

    I spent too many years playing GURPS with tons of fiddly 1/2 point skills. It's just not worth the bookkeeping. :-)
  • I feel sympathetic to this, my players are transitioning from games like Rifts, Pathfinder and WoD there skills are pretty well defined. I don't think they will appreciate the openness at first.

    I have two options I am toying with; first is to give my players some background skills they can select, each of which gives a +1 bonus to the dice roll when it comes into play and is superseded by any skills they have. The second is again to give the background skills, but this time any action that is attempted without a skill (normal or background) will have a +1 difficulty.
  • For my Numenera campaign I tried creating a list of broad skills. That way "book smarts" would imply a bonus for all the humanities since it was accepted that the character had studied. It didn't really catch on though because my players wanted more specificity.

    In general, I agree with ctavares on this one. How much of it is applicable skill versus character background? I think of lower difficulties based on backstory similar to lowering difficulties because of good RP. If the player can make the case for it, why not give a bonus on the roll?
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