Tuesday, 11 June 2019

AFF: I've got (Special) Skills...

...they're multiplying!

So sang the famous Ogre minstrel, Jhon Revolta.

Luckily, in AFF2e there isn't quite the proliferation of Skills that can be found in some games (I'm looking at you, iterations of BRP). Plus, having Hero competency based off a generic SKILL score rather than finely sliced into different skill ratings means that a PC doesn't end up being extremely able in one area while incapable in another closely related area (though I am of the opinion that when this does happen it is as much a problem of the players (including the GM) as it is the system).

Nevertheless, in the AFF2e core rulebook there are a whole bunch of Special Skills, grouped into Combat, Movement, Stealth, Knowledge, and Magical. It is here, with the Skill groupings, that I sometimes start thinking of AFF as a kind of 'Junior RuneQuest' (there's also some bits of Titan that suggest a RuneQuest influence). These grouping have no effect on the game, but can help players when choosing to allocate Special Skill points, organise Special Skills on the character sheet, and might point the way to simplified or player-defined Special Skill categories.

More Skills are added in the expansion books Blacksand!, the Hero's Companion, The Titan Herbal, etc. There is no reason why a player could not discard this list and simply assign points to 'areas of expertise' (in negotiation with the GM to make sure nothing too broad or narrow is selected) or even to 'sources of power' - want to have a PC that can accomplish things through their 'Love', their 'Curiosity', or their 'Beauty'? Well, why not make it as Special Skill and bring it into the 2d6 resolution mechanism - AFF2e is a pretty loose game, with resolution mechanics that are pretty 'abstract', so why not? If this doesn't sit right, these things could always be added as custom Talents (see next post).

Special Skills are rated between 1 and 6, with the rulebook saying that "A special skill of 1 point indicates someone who has had basic training, 2 points indicates fully trained, 3 points can be considered an expert, and 4 or more a master" (AFF2e p 25). This sits uneasily with the standard task resolution mechanism which is to roll under SKILL + Special Skill (or roll + SKILL + Special Skill if using the alternative 'roll under'. As such, I have thought carefully about the ways to understand SKILL and Special Skill in AFF2e. I'll not rewrite those arguments here, but will point you to the appropriate blog posts:

Skill Rolls in AFF2e (November 2014)

HWWJD: More on AFF2e Skill Tests (November 2014)

AFF2e: The Virtues of Asymmetry (June 2015)

AFF2e House Rule: Capped 'effective' SKILL (August 2014)   

These posts preempt much of what I have to say with regard to the 'Game Rules' chapter of the rulebook, in terms of simplifying (and, in a some senses, expanding) on how to handle Skill rolls in AFF2e.

Next up: Talents.

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