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D100 Jorune: A note regarding communication skills

November 19, 2012

BRP is a skill-based system. In many (though not all) of its iterations and clones, skills are divided into categories: combat, communication, perception, etc. For D100 Jorune, I’m using the following seven categories:

Combat (weapon skills, martial arts, etc.)
Communication (language and interaction skills)
Isho (dyshas and other energy manipulation abilities)
Manipulation (arts and crafts, picking locks or pockets, etc.)
Mental (knowledge-based skills)
Perception (listening, navigating, researching, tracking, etc.)
Physical (non-combat skills dependent on strength and/or agility: climbing, stealth, etc.)

James of Grognardia once likened the difference between fans of class-based and skill-based systems to that between “dog people” and “cat people”, and some of the comments in response to his post seem to support that view. Now, I am decidedly a dog person in real life, but in gaming terms I swing both ways, as it were. I like D&D and I like BRP. I tend to agree with Delta, who (in those same comments) opines that “the foremost dogs-versus-cats schism in our hobby is the story-versus-game divide”. But that’s another topic.

While I have no issue with skill-based systems as such, I am conscious of the problem of skill list bloat. In an attempt to reduce the number of individual skills on the character sheet (and heeding the sage counsel of Vile that “the rules are complete when nothing more can be taken away”) I have ditched many of the standard BRP communication skills: Bargain, Command, Fast Talk, etc. Instead, for D100 Jorune I’ve introduced an Interaction skill, which has twenty subdivisions – one for each of the sapient species on Jorune. (Yes, I know that goes against what I just said about reducing the number of skills. Nevertheless, in my view it still simplifies the skill list.) So there’s Interaction (Shantha), Interaction (Thriddle), Interaction (Corastin), and so on. If your PC wants to haggle with thivin traders, for example, instead of making a Bargain roll, you and your GM roleplay the encounter and, if the GM deems it appropriate, make an Interaction (Thivin) skill check. Situations that might call for such skills as Etiquette or Fast Talk in a “standard” BRP game can be resolved with Difficult Interaction skill checks (i.e., half normal chance to succeed) – at the GM’s discretion, as always.

To my mind, interaction between the many different species forced to share a planet is the stuff of roleplaying on Jorune, and my tweaking of the skill list is intended to bring this aspect to the fore.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 19, 2012 7:34 pm

    Does BRP have an encounter reaction roll to determine whether the first impression is Like, Neutral, Despise, Ignore, etc? That could help influence the RP conversation. Then the player decides how he’ll talk with this person, and the referee can decide if the negotiation is good enough to allow an Interact roll to shift the person’s reactions in the right direction.

    Again, this might all be in BRP but I have no idea. In terms of wanting fewer rules, or “fewer unnecessary rules” I guess, I think an initial reaction roll is pretty useful to help guide a referee’s roleplaying.

    • November 19, 2012 7:57 pm

      No version of BRP I know has any kind of reaction roll or table. Why this is so, I don’t know. Perhaps such randomness seems silly to designers and players of a somewhat more “realistic”, simulationist game system than D&D. BRP games (at least the ones I know well, like Call of Cthulhu and Stormbringer) don’t emphasise random encounters at all, so maybe the GM is just expected to know how NPCs and monsters will react based on their motivations and desires.

      But that’s not what I want. My ultimate goal is to create, to the best of my ability, a Jorune sandbox, with all the scope for unexpected encounters and events that entails. As it happens, Skyrealms of Jorune itself DID contain random encounter tables (pages of them, including a D1000 table for wilderness encounters!) and several “Response Roll” tables for different categories of creature. I like them and will definitely be including reaction/response tables into my conversion, partly for the reasons you mention.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Karl Steward permalink
    November 25, 2012 2:04 am

    Good thoughts.
    I’m definitely a ‘skill’ person (and a ‘story’ person’) but I’m happy to see skill lists tweaked to play to the genre/theme/mood. I’ll trade minute weapon skill differentiation for the Dysha skills and other things that bring out the flavor of Jorune.

    • November 25, 2012 9:27 am

      For weapon skills, I’m thinking this is enough to be going on with:

      Melee Weapon: 7 specialisms (Axe, Club, Knife, Polearm, Spear, Staff, Sword)
      Missile Weapon: 7 specialisms (Bola, Bow, Crossbow, Knife, Sis-ganj, Sling, Spear)
      Energy Weapon: 2 specialisms (Pistol, Rifle)

      Thikes (spiked gauntlets) would use the Brawl skill, with a damage bonus.

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