Is Grace even a skill?

Back from vacation! I was able to (mostly) keep up with the torrent of new blog topics, and I have lots of comments and thoughts. Today I wanted to jump into a hot topic over at the Forums. There has been an active topic about overcasting, the use of the Grace “Magical Expertise” skill and the parameters in which it should work.

BTW, if you haven’t read this blog post I put up a few years ago, I would recommend reading this first:

Like “Transcend Armor”, “Grace” is a work-around for a basic rule restriction: casting spells faster than allowed or casting higher level spells than allowed. Basically it’s a cheat code that is being encoded into the RMU DNA as a core rule mechanic. However, unlike combat expertise skills that could be argued have a fundamental mechanic that allows for improvement (like reverse strike), what exactly is “Grace”? How do you train in it? Is it a physical skill of hand movements, arms gestures or similar? Is it “zen” mental training? What does training entail? Squeeze stress balls? Finger puppets? Kegel exercises? Can a PC take skill in Grace even if they don’t have a spell list? How do you justify that?

Playtesting has resulted in feedback that Grace is too powerful and suggestions have been offered: limit Grace to base lists only, limit it to specific spells, apply the skill to only 2 lists. Other suggestions propose adjusting both Grace and Spellcasting rules in general–sort of a “balancing of the scales”. To me this is even more problematic–it creates a binary mechanic (Grace and SCR)whose only purpose is to justify the need for the Grace skill.

Clearly, the issues around overcasting and speedcasting can and should be dealt with in the base casting rules. Grace is a excessive and unneeded skill which should be eliminated. I think it’s unlikely to be removed; it’s embedded in the collective designer consciousness and it would reduce magical expertise category to just Transcend Armor (another pointless and stupid “skill”).