Dead... and Back is a survival horror Role Playing Game. The Anarchy Zones is its official setting - aliens, reanimates, and the ruins of 2055 America.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alpha Skill List

The first few drafts of the game didn't include a set list of skills.In part its laziness - I don't like coming up with lists of abilities and then trying to balance them so you don't have any "must have vs useless" arguments. I also felt the individual GM would be a better judge of what is allowable in their game. Furthermore, no guidelines would lead to bad choices, and the crux of a horror game is being unprepared.

However, my initial play test group didn't like the free form skills. Nor did they understand the difference between skills and special ability, and at least one tried to make up skills identical to an ability and asked why a solder can't have both tactics and heavy weapons.

Before displaying the new list, let me reiterate how the skill system works. Every character has five attributes - Strength, Tech, Quick, Wits, and Aim. These are very broad areas of ability, and measure a person's general aptitude. A high tech character is a born engineer, a low tech rating means fairly bad at understanding systems.

Skills represent specialization within an attribute that might indicate vocational school, some degree of college, or an out of control hobby.

Special Abilities, are just that - special. These are things that require a license to know (explosives handling), a PhD (surgery) or otherwise years of commitment to some cause (Security clearance).

So for example, a solder would not have the tactics/strategy special ability, and the ammo conservation ability together, because one indicates time spent in West Point learning to lead, and the other is from field experience, and its been 150 years (George Patton excluded) since generals lead from the front.

I'm trying to make a 15-20 item list, and expand the choice of special abilities as part of my general overhaul of the character creation chapter. (For the most part, I need more foot notes, since elements like lucidity and altruism points are explained in chapters other than creation)

So far we have:
  1. Negotiating
  2. Medicine
  3. Burglary (Lifting wallets, finding fences, etc.)
  4. Access (Free-running, climbing, navigation)
  5. Investigation (Finding clues, tracking people)
  6. Scavenging
  7. Repair
  8. Programming/Hacking
  9. Driving (Cars - pilot's licenses etc is an SA)
  10. Construction
  11. Camping/Wilderness Survival
  12. Wood Working and Fabric Construction
  13. Welding/Metal Fabrication
  14. Organic Chemistry
  15. Nanotech Integration (probably an SA is available at all)
  16. Animal handling/riding
  17. Swimming & Boating
Since the aim attribute is handled a bit differently from the others (its a gestalt of ranged and close combat ability) I'm reluctant to have any skill that affect it. I also need more skills that might conceivably fall under "strength" since I'm trying to avoid any single super stat or dump stat.

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