I may be making some assumptions here but I am guessing most of the readers here are English speaking. That most English speaking territories have some sort of TV shows along the lines of Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing with the Stars, Dancing on Ice. I also assume that as roleplayers we do not watch Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing with the Stars, Dancing on Ice.

Bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.

So whereas the fans of those sorts of shows are avid watchers of fleckles, hip action and correctly pointed hands and feet we are more interested in different sorts of moving manoeuvres.

Now, last week Brian brought up the old topic of No Profession and his idea of the free market economy for skill costs. Another element of making Rolemaster more accessible and faster to play is meta skills.

One of the arguments against meta skills was put something like this. Meta skills are fine for fantasy and historical settings but in modern settings subjects are far more specialised.

I am not saying that meta skills are right and a multitude of specific skills are wrong. I do not believe in right and wrong at all in rpgs. We make and play the games we like in the way that we like them. This is all about an idea I had on Saturday evening when Mrs R was watching one of those dance shows!

So in a RM2 game every typical farmer that the players meet probably have the a cross section of or even the majority of this mix of skills.

  1. Animal handling Pig
  2. Aminal handling Cow
  3. Animal Handling Chicken
  4. Animal Handling Donkey
  5. Aminal Handling Dog
  6. Animal Healing Pig
  7. Aminal Healing Cow
  8. Animal Healing Donkey
  9. Animal Healing Dog. No farmer can afford to lose live stock and this includes animal midwifery.
  10. Herding Pig
  11. Herding Cow
  12. Herding Chicken
  13. Loading
  14. Driving Cart
  15. Flora Law for crops
  16. Wood working for repairs around the farm
  17. Rope Mastery for repairs around the farm
  18. Weapon Skill (spear encompassing pitchforks etc) as someone has to deal with foxes, coyotes, mountain lions and join the lynch mob to drive undesirables away.
  19. Perception to spot foxes, coyotes, mountain lions and undesirables.
  20. Body development as farming is hard work.
  21. Trading to buy and sell seed and produce.
  22. Weather watching to know what tomorrow brings.
  23. Singing
  24. Dancing
  25. Musical instrument. These three are essential social skills for finding a wife and making your own entertainment.
  26. Time Sense.

So that is not an exhaustive list. You could add in a lot more Lores depending on how the farmer manages their land. If they have water wheels, a smithy or a tannery on their farm then that comes with a skill burden. If they have farm hands beyond the family then they may need some public speaking or people management skills.

If the typical secondary skill has a cost of 2/6 then my snap shot of skills requires 52DPs per level or straight 70+ in every stat. Or the alternative is that some of the skills come from culture and hobby skills ranks and they do not have all the animal skills, if a cow goes sick they call on the neighbour that does know about cows and people come to them when their pigs are sick and so on.

So the idea that modern settings do not fit in with meta skills as modern skills are too specialised does not work. Portraying historical farmers in RM2 are just as detailed.

Now going back to our Strictly Dancing on Ice with the Stars their are often athletes, sports personalities and former Olympians as contestants. These people almost invariably do extremely well. The reason they do so well is partly down to the fact that almost all sports require a combination of hand/eye coordination, core strength, balance and footwork. All of these translate well to dance apparently. Some of the people who have done well in the past have been gymnasts, rugby players [rugby is like American Football with the training wheels taken off 🙂 ], and track and field athletes.

In my vision of the Athletic Games meta skill the list of  hand/eye coordination, core strength, balance and footwork is almost the skill definition. Taking these dance programmes seem to say that all forms of athletics provide a great level of cross over.

The way I handle unfamiliar situations is by using higher difficulty factors which would mean that as the weeks and months (although it feels longer) that these shows go on for the contestants would be able to apply more of their full skill to each routine and the Difficulty diminishes.

I do not really want to reopen the argument on Meta Skills. I think we have done that to death but this came to me this week as I was writing whilst Mrs R was watching the show and I noticed that one of the highest scoring contestants was Jonathan Peacock who is a para-Olympian and amputee.

Finally, I think it is a damn sight easier just give Vocation:Farmer as a skill and move on to doing something more fun.

Comments (9)

  1. BriH

    Reply

    “Finally, I think it is a damn sight easier just give Vocation:Farmer as a skill and move on to doing something more fun.”

    👍👍👍👍

  2. Reply

    D&D 3.x/Pathfinder have a comparatively simple system for NPCs such as farmers (and believe me, “simple” is not a term I would generally use to describe D&D 3.x, which I think is probably at least as complicated as Rolemaster). There are the Commoner and Expert NPC classes and usually they would get a class skill related to whatever their actual profession is, such as farmer.

    • Peter R

      Reply

      I was really not suggesting that we create farmers as detailed NPCs. It was the idea that meta skills were fine for fantasy settings because everything was a bit simple back then whereas today skills are far more specialised and specific. I could understand that at first glance back in the fantasy village there were no football coaches and no rugby coaches let along dedicated coaches for linebackers (whatever they are) and scrummage coaches. Now it appears that everything is so atomised that it can be studied in minute detail and with tightly focused training. The point is that despite all that dedicated subject specific training it all crosses over with relative ease and it comes down to hand/eye coordination, core strength, balance and footwork.

  3. Hurin

    Reply

    Aren’t hand/eye coordination, core strength, and balance at least represented by the stats (Agility, Strength, and Agility again or Quickness?).

    I’m not opposed to the idea of meta skills, because I think your example above with the farmer shows that even a humble farmer has a wider array of skills in real life than a character can buy with the standard RM array of development points. But it seems to me that the reason rugby players can make good dancers (I say can because I played a lot of rugby but have never been a good dancer) is not because of skill, it is because of natural ability — or in Rolemaster terms, stats.

    • Peter R

      Reply

      Unless you are looking explicitly at lore or sciences (actual factual knowledge) it tends to get a bit woolly anyway. Do trained fighters do more damage because they are stronger and faster (stats) or because they train with their sword on the parade ground day in, day out (skill)?

      Rolemaster makes very little use of stats. Once you have rolled them you are just using the stat bonus and that soon pales into insignificance compared to the skill rank bonus. In rolemaster it is the skills that take all the limelight. You cannot build a great dancer as a PC or NPC just by putting their best stats into the prime stats for that skill. In fact the way RM2 is set up the -25 all these contestants would have in dance would completely wipe out any stat bonus they may have. In RM2 stats alone cannot make you a dancer.

      • Hurin

        Reply

        I agree that RM makes little use of stats; you’ve convinced me of that. And I do think that if I were redesigning RM, I would just add the stat (rather than the stat bonus) to any skill rolls. I wonder if you could even do this for RMU: you’d have to raise the hit threshold on the weapon charts and possibly the skill checks, but otherwise I think it could work.

        • Peter R

          Reply

          It would certainly make starring characters more capable.

          Could we use those alternative combat table spreadsheet to tinker with the RMU hit threshold?

          • Hurin

            Reply

            I don’t think that would be hard to do. The main question would be, how high do you raise the threshold?

            If you raised it by say 30 or so, you’d need about 100 to hit and roughly 115 to start getting criticals against AT 1. That seems pretty reasonable. If the average person has +50 from stat, it would mean that most people need a roll of 50 against an average human opponent to do hits, and 65 to start getting crits. The people who would do better in such a system would be the people with high stats: if you had a 90 or 100 in the stat, you would be getting criticals very easily, though of course that would only be against unarmored, average-quickness targets. Against someone in plate (AT 10), someone with a 90 stat would need a roll of 53 to start getting criticals.

            So, you could set the threshold as high or low as you want. If you set it at say 30, then high-stat characters are going to be very effective in combat at very low levels, and even average characters are going to be capable.

            • Peter R

              Reply

              You could use Qu/2 as DB, if there are not going to be any stat bonuses any more.

              In that case the 30 point shift seems about right.

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