Skills - difficulty level?

brian_s's picture

One thing I love about GURPS is that some skills are more difficult to learn & acquire.

Is there anything like that in HG?
If not any easy way to mod it in?

Jan's picture

Well, the OML multiplier that differs per skill essentially makes some skills easier and some more difficult to develop. When you activate some skills, you start with as little as SB1 while another might open at SB4. If you prefer more variety among the Lore/Craft skills (of which most open at SB1), you can simply increase a couple of standard multipliers. Heraldry, for example, seems like a potential candidate that could have a higher multiplier.

The question of when you can open a skill you don't have yet is purely GM-based in all versions of HM. This is where you can really accentuate the differences between each skill. To be able to open Alchemy, for example, the GM might actually require characters to learn from an NPC alchemist or at least obtain a book teaching the basics of alchemy. For more autodidactic skills like Cookery, on the other hand, the GM might allow characters to open it when they first use it.

Also the process of skill development can be handled skill-specific and by GM discretion. For developing a magic spell, the GM might allow a development roll for each spell use, for combat skills maybe one or two per battle, and for very common skills like Awareness or Rhetoric maybe one per session.

If you prefer the methods of skill opening and skill development to be more clearly and independently defined -- and not ad hoc by GM discretion -- you could make a list of all the skills and make a note for each on how it can be opened and under what conditions it can be improved. Somethings like this:

ALCHEMY
Opening: requires instructor or book
Development: once per concoction brewed

DarthLappen's picture

In HG only few skills have exact rules how to open it. That is Arcane Lore and Arcane Discipline, Cookery, and the rule of the thumb which states a month for every Lore/Craft Skill. In a different rule set there were statements about how many month it takes for certain skills. That was the easy part.

For me I was also unsatisfied with both solutions because there are many skills which have similarities and coincides and various complexities. In example Cookery, Perfumery and Alchemy - all three of these Skills are mixing stuff for a specific purpose. Cookery for a tasty result, perfumery for a smelly result and alchemy for an effect enhancing result. So in specific cases the knowledge how to do something is reducing the time needed to learn other skills.

The next point is the assumption in the rules that a teacher is mandatory. But taking a look on our world and history knowledge about skills were learned somehow by the first human because there wasn't a teacher. Of course self-study requires a glimpse of the basic understanding how something could work. In that case I tripled learning time for more try and error.

So currently I'm using a system of calculations of depending and interacting skills to figure out how much time is required. But the basic calculation I started with is (5-OML)x20 days if a teacher is doing the training and (5-OML)x60 days if no help is available. Any similar skill deducts (5-OML of the similar skill) days multiplier.

Jan's picture

Very interesting approach! I especially like the incorporation of skill similarity.

In my HM groups, I use a more freewheeling "system" of 5 tally marks for opening skills during play. A character accumulates tally marks for performing actions related to the skill (either dedicated ones like training, learning, or researching) or certain actions that are part of the adventure (especially for Combat Skills and skills like Rhetoric, Intrigue, and Stealth). While it takes the same number of tally marks (5) to open each skills, exactly what generates a tally mark and what doesn't completely depends on the skill, the situation, and mainly on GM discretion.