RMU House Rule #2 Skills

Before we start I want to set out two core concepts.

  1. These rules are based around No Profession.
  2. Characters will only be buying skills once. (Thereafter training and experience will take over.)

So I am quite happy with the RMU cultures rules and free skills ranks. I do think that GMs should tinker with the ranks both number and distribution to fit their game and play style but apart from that I am cool with cultures.

The biggest bone of contention is the category cost vs individual skills costs.

The individual skills cost for professions is rather moot if you don’t have professions. The hang over is that I can see why people would want to differentiate their characters.

I don’t want to go down the Training Packages route which of course would put a ‘skin’ or ‘build’ over the top of the No Profession.

The No Profession has the nice feature of being able to choose where to place your professional skill bonuses. That guarantees that each player can customise their character.

The best solution so far is Intothatdarknesses variable skill costs.

So there is a standard skill cost progression which I assume will not change again. So I am think that in each category each player may reduce one skill cost by two steps and one skill by one step.

I was concerned that assigning skill costs up front may mean that should a future skill be introduced that characters are then unfairly penalised. I am thinking about RM2 and when Two Weapon Combo was introduced in RoCoII.

On the other hand if the players are only adjusting two skill costs in each category they are not actually locking themselves out of any skill.

This solution also solves another potential problem. The default number of DPs had has been increased from 50 to 60 but the No Profession profession is less efficient than most others so I have been upping the number of DPs 70. Now if each player can reduce the cost of their preferred skills that will redress that balance between the inefficiency of the No Profession and the off the peg professions.

RMU Skills

I like the RMU skills and I like the way combat expertise works. On the other hand I don’t like passive skills and passive bonuses. In all versions of RM each and all skill has been optional and I cannot see any real reason why I cannot simply drop the skills I don’t like, or more the case of redefining the skills. Just dropping the passive skill bonuses solves a lot of my issues.

So I think with just those two house rules I am good with the RMU skill system.

16 Replies to “RMU House Rule #2 Skills”

  1. I too will be dropping the passive skills altogether. They just cause too many problems: they are additional bookkeeping, they contribute to DB inflation, they harm backwards compatibility, and they introduce a second skill mechanic that works differently than all other skill mechanics (thus adding confusion). But they are easy to drop, and I don’t see any negative repercussions from simply dropping them.

    I agree that individual skill costs are unnecessary if you don’t have professions. So I am glad the RMU system works for your style. Allowing players to drop the cost of a skill or two, in order to customize their character, is a step towards professions IMHO, but a minor one that I don’t forsee causing any real issues.

    1. It is and it isn’t a step towards professions. I can see how thinking that a) I want to play a cleric profession so I choose that profession and it gets cheap religious skill costs would seem extremely close to b) I want to play a cleric so I am going to reduce the cost of religion.

      The difference is that the off the peg profession is more restrictive. You are tied into what ICE thought a cleric should be good at and that goes for the base lists as well and profession skill bonuses.

      The answer to the question “What is a Paladin?” can be answered in three equally valid ways. It is a fighting cleric, it is a religious warrior or it is a distinct kind of hybrid warrior/cleric. How you create that character in a profession based system depends on the profession you choose, it could be a cleric but you pay the penalty for spending mroe on combat skills that than the developers think you should. Or you build a fighter but get penalised for spending more on magic than the developers thought or you choose the predefined Paladin profession and have to accept the developers concept of what a paladin is.

      With the No Profession version you can still tweak the skills costs but you can also place the professional skill bonuses where you want them and then you can pick any 6 base lists. So if your player came to you with the concept of a paladin from a druidic culture it is easy to hand pick six base lists possibly from the Ranger, some from the Druid and some from the Paladin.

      Professions is like having a wardrobe full of suits, the No Profession is more like having an inhouse tailor.

      1. I got around the profession skill bonuses by having players assign them each level. They could drop +1, +2, or +3 into any skill they learned or improved that DP cycle, with a cap on the total that could be allocated (30 points total). That not only let players shape their character each level, it avoided the silly huge level bonus any time a higher-level character learned a new skill in one of the groups that got the bonus.

        1. I assign professional bonuses per rank so it doesn’t matter how experienced you are if you only have 1 rank in something you will only get one lot of professional bonus.

    2. So now thinking about standard builds we could incorporate the skill pricing into the standard build so there would be an off the peg fighter, rogue, mage or druid.

      What I think would be more exciting would be have an off the peg Briton warrior, druid, centurion and Romanesque magi. Then flip the page and you get a crusader, saracen, desert nomad or thief and a sorcerer.

  2. Yes, I don’t see any problems to reverse engineering builds/classes into the system, so that you can have a Briton warrior or Romanesque magus. The latter in particular would be intruguing: “I’ll cast Roman Arch IV for 5 Powerpoints!”

    What do you do though when someone comes to you with a character concept that is a stealthy semi-spell using Warrior Mage, with low costs on weapons, armor, and spells, and whose 6 base lists include Fire Law, Light Law, Lofty Bridges, and Invisible Ways (i.e. most of the best spells in the game)?

    1. OK, so right now I don’t know the answer to this. Previously the inefficiency of no profession made it extremely difficult to excel at everything.

      Under the RMC version of this the first round of characters tried to be exactly that. What actually happened is that because only the skills you were actively using in adventures improved and that went for the spell lists as well, the players own actions acted as a mediator. As the players reverted to type those that think sword first soon had OBs that far exceeded their magic using ability. In addition their physical stats were improving but their mental stats didn’t so the number of power points didn’t really grow much either.

      To learn more spells on each spell list they have to be used in the adventuring context so using boil liquid (Fire Law 1st level) is great for the emergency brewing of herbs would be an example or the character has to seek out training. The first is hard to achieve if you are a fighter at heart and the second is very much in the gift of the GM as to whether trainers and training is available and at what price.

      It was fairly easy for a magic focused character to progress up the list of Light Law as Projected Light and Shock Bolt are both useful and low enough level to be frequently used even in the beginning levels.

      Maybe reducing two skill costs in every category is too generous? Maybe being able to reduce three skills costs across all categories would still be enough to allow customisation without making everyone a virtual demigod?

  3. Why are you keeping professional bonus? It is only really a way of showing accumulated knowledge/skill for a profession by being in that body of learning. Actually, with some physical skills, it might not even be relevant at all. Surely, we can doctor the system so that learning at an institution gives a more rapid rate of learning and thus removing the need for a profession bonus. Well, that’s what I am thinking with my now rapid leaning towards a level-less profession-less system.

    1. There are two reasons really.

      The first is to maintain compatibility with the core RMU system. Characters built under these rules will be perfectly capable of being used with any off the shelf RMU adventure that ICE publish.

      The second reason is that the professional bonuses help differentiate characters. If you want to be a dedicated fighter then you will soon stand above those that are not in your skill with a sword.

      1. I can see the compatibility issue but I suspect as a GM it is really only a matter of pitch for the current parties skill levels. Obviously, we don’t want to be pitching the opponents beyond the challenge level. However, it would be easy to subtract +3/lvl to balance out.

        As to the profession bonus if you are going profession/classless it doesn’t make sense. A warrior spends more time training with a sword than a mage. You are defined by your skills, not by the label assigned by the world or yourself. Actually, I can call myself a teacher and take a job being one but have none of the skills or professional aptitude, which I think is what you are referring to as the professional bonus, to be one. If you are going down the training for skill development it would be easier to give a time/cost discount to those who learn at “sword school” which would be equivalent in the end to the level dependent professional bonus – with an added bonus of less book-keeping of levels in one or other profession

        1. I am seeing professional bonuses in this context as representing the characters natural talents and have nothing to do with the training received. With the No Profession the player gets to decide which 10 skills get the professional bonus (that is RMU RAW). So imagine if you were to put a professional bonus on your sword skill but your colleague doesn’t. These two characters then receive some training in swordmanship. You with your natual talent with swords will get more from the training than someone with less natural aptitude despite doing the same training drills and getting the same advice.

          That is who I see professional skill bonuses working in this version.

  4. Thought of something else to do with adolescence and early development. It, of course, depends on culture a bit, but children/adolescents without schooling system will learn the skills their parents teach them. So most youngster will end up with a rank in animal husbandry, agriculture, foraging, and able to speak the local dialect. 🙂 Well at the bottom of the human social scale that is, but then that also explains why a noble’s son will be a better fighter than a peasant’s son.
    Then again if the character has access to some form of training (school) then they will develop more quickly where their aptitude (Stats) lie because firstly, it is easier to master so you feel good about yourself (internal positive feedback) and secondly, teachers tend to favour early developers (external positive feedback). Which of course means you tend to pick a profession (in the true sense) that suits your aptitudes.
    So I am thinking the adolescent table should be influenced by these factors and developing your character background would then be an integral part of character development.
    What you decide to do as your adventuring profession could then follow independent choice.

    1. The answer to this the cultural skill ranks mechanic. RMU by default comes with just 8 or so cultures but this should be expanded, probably by the GM. So for each ‘nation’ in your game you can have a rural, urban and noble culture. This allows you to have that level of sophistication without having any additional complexity.

      1. I also got around this with modern stuff by adding an education template to cover higher education or four years in the workforce prior to joining an agency. Such a model could be converted to fantasy. It’s not especially complex, and adds another layer of structured creativity (and skills) to characters. As a bonus, they’re MUCH more survivable at first level.

          1. It is.. Culture ranks don’t really deal with higher ed very well, and this gives players another chance to spread some useful Lore, Science, and Vocation skills around. For espionage stuff that’s quite useful. I’m working on other models for other genres right now.

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