Stacking Trained Skills

So tomorrow night, I will be GMing my first game of Numenera. It will also be my first time even playing Numenera. I have a question about stacking skills.

In my game, I have a Graceful Glaive who Fights with Panache,
-Graceful automatically makes the character trained in Speed Defenses.
-The player chose the fighting style: Trained Without Armor -- and this states that, if a player is not wearing armor, they are trained in Speed Defenses.
-The player also has a shield which is an asset that lowers the Speed Defense difficulty by one.

My question is: Do the Graceful descriptor and Trained Without Armor, stack, thus resulting in Speed Defenses being specialized? This would mean that, with the shield, the character would have a -3 difficulty in all speed defenses.

For some reason I feel that I read somewhere that stacking skills in this manner is illegal, and you can't have a skill specialized in this way.

After looking at people with similar questions on the internet, I've come to people on both sides saying that it's either legal or illegal, so now I'm confused.

Does anyone have an answer that they can back up with a textual explanation? For some reason, I swear that I've read about this exact situation.


  • As I understood it; The skills do stack when chosen in this manner and the player would start with the skill specialized. The "Skills" text box on page 25. The text also says that the shield is an asset so the difficulty would be dropped again to a total of -3. It says so right in the equipment list. Unless the PCs are fighting a Lvl 3 critter or person, then there is still a chance to fail when they roll their defense.

    If you don't want that to happen then call the shield an armor piece therefore negating the Trained Without Armor bonus. If you do: be consistent and treat every shield like it's armor.

    Or make the shield like an artifact that has a depletion roll every time that it takes a hit. I would use the "cascading die" method for this. The shield starts at a 1 on a 1d20 for depletion; when the 1 is rolled it's depletion goes down to the next size die a 1d12, then a 1d10, d6, d4, and finally a coin flip. Once it runs out of depletion, it's useless. A successful Intelligence, repair skill or a blacksmithing skill roll (difficulty-next die size up) would allow the shield to go back up the depletion die chain. If the Player wants to keep using the shield, or any item, they have to spend the time maintaining it. Make them work for that asset bonus. That's my personal house rule though you won't find it in the books.
  • I would go down the route of treating the shield as armour, thus negating Trained Without Armour. Think of Neo in The Matrix - can you imagine him doing all those fancy moves whilst lugging a shield around?
  • I'm way late to this party, and I'm sure this ruling is long since resolved in your game, but I wanted to post anyway.

    I agree with both Stolentime and Jester. Skills clearly are intended to stack in this fashion, so the PC should become specialized in Speed Defense tasks with this selection.

    I also think ruling that shields are a type of armor is a wise choice. I believe that was probably the original intent of the designers, and it was simply overlooked in the loose presentation of the rules. (The slightly cleaned up presentation in The Strange does list shields as armor.)

    Most importantly, I think ruling it this way passes the logic test. What are the odds that a guy who never learned to wear even the lightest of armor learned to use a shield proficiently in combat? It's a bit weird, in my opinion. Ruling that shields are armor cleans this up.
  • edited February 2016
    I have to disagree with all this. The verbiage is pretty clear on stacking trained skills and Assets. Skill "Training" stacks twice to "Specialization" but a Shield isn't training, it's a piece of equipment that gives an asset (hence why it's listed under other equipment). Glaives, far more than Jacks or Nanos are EXCEPTIONAL combatants, EXCEPTIONAL. If your player wants to be "Dances with Shields" and almost never get hit, LET THEM. Chances are this will be as deep into avoiding attacks as they will be able to go (barring cypher usage).

    You can get creative with how you deal with this, perhaps enemies bypass the player, heading after other party members instead. Large groups of enemies will act together to increase the difficulty of their attack (and their damage, let's not forget all that armor your player's not wearing).

    This isn't like combat based systems like D20, Combat isn't necessarily an event where everyone participates in equal measure, I've seen Wizardy Nano/Paradox types get creative with abilities in a fight, and I've seen Jack/Spinner types rally a team, but not a combat has gone by when everyone at the table (myself included) hasn't looked at the Glaive/Vector and been blown away by what they're capable of. Let your player characters be exceptional.

    ...besides, you have GM intrusion, tell the tale of "Butter-Fingers, the Graceful Glaive who Fights with Panache".
  • After reading your post, I thought, "I have to be missing something. Drew is so sure of this, and says the verbiage is clear."

    Only after doing a search for "shield" in the PDF did I find the verbiage to which I assume you are referring. It's in the "Glaive Example" section on page 32, and it explicitly calls out the shield as an asset. Who knows when I'd have stumbled across this without the search function. I don't read those example sections often, these days.

    I initially agreed with the spirit of your ruling, and intended to post as much. Now, I see where you found the ruling itself within the text. We'll incorporate it immediately. (I can't say that I've ever seen a situation in which a shield would've been a third asset, so I doubt the oversight has made much difference to date.)

    This speaks to the one problem I have with the Cypher System-- at times, rules text can be a bit unclear and/or scattered throughout the book. I guess that's not completely surprising, given the system's "rules light" focus. Still, proper presentation and editing would prevent this. Even the new Cypher System Rulebook hasn't eliminated this, despite shoring up many other weaknesses.
  • Sorry, I should've posted page numbers to back this up. I was actually looking at "Shield" under "Other equipment" (pg 81), noting that it didn't appear under Armor (pg 79), and the explanation of Assets on 15 and 16. (paraphrasing) "three things drop difficulty, Skills, Assets, and Effort. Skills can drop difficulty by a max of 2 steps, assets can drop difficulty by a max of 2 steps effort is limited by the player's score in effort."

    I'd say make that your sticking point, If it sounds like your players are doing something insane to the difficulty say "Are you specialized? How many assets are you bringing? How much effort are you spending?" if their answer is "Yes I am, 2, and 3, because I'm tier three." then yeah, they just dropped difficulty by 7.
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