I’m doing some rough design work on a Fate game, and I want to use Skill Modes, but it’s giving me trouble. Skill lists for Fate can have a large impact on the game and it’s style of play, and Skill modes actually makes things more complicated because it means you have to find a home for each skill within a mode, but not make the skills too rare or too common, nor make too many modes, and every mode should have the same number of skills… and you end up with lots of little moving bits, where if you change one thing, you have to alter all the rest.
Complicating that, I’m creating skill modes that are broad archetypes, and I’m trying to keep them well balanced. That is to say, I don’t want a skill mode to have Physique and Will, nor Shooting and Fighting, nor all of the social related skills.
I’m finding myself rejiggering the skill list and the modes back and forth trying to get them to “line up” better. I delete/combine skills, rename them into broader concepts, alter the names of modes to tweak their concept to fit more etc. Diplomat becomes Agent, so now it’s more than just talking related skills. Craft and Computers is combines into Technology. Etc.
I’ve done some Googling, looking for any other examples of skill modes, but I haven’t found anything detailed enough examine as a whole, just the odd mode example without the skill list or complete list of modes to compare it to. Atomic Robo RPG uses skill modes, but it’s skill list is much smaller, so it gets by with just 4 base modes that are much more topic direct (action, banter, intrigue, science). It’s interesting, but to implement it correctly I had have to strip the skill list way down.
Now I don’t want to give away what exactly I’m working on, setting wise, so let’s call it a Space Opera.
Here is the current theoretical skill list:
- Pilot (name change from Drive)
- Stealth (includes the parts of Burglary that didn’t end up in Technology)
- Technology (includes much of Burglary and Craft core skills)
- <Name Redacted>(Secret Extra-Related Skill)
You’ll note that I’ve removed Resources entirely, but that the skill list is very similar to the one in the core rules.
Here are the Modes I’m currently playing with (in a spreadsheet so I can see how they all line up):
- Ace (6: Athletics, Pilot, Shoot, Stealth, Technology, “Secret skill”)
- Agent (6: Contacts, Deceive, Empathy, Investigate, Rapport, Will)
- Bruiser (5!: Athletics, Fight, Notice, Physique, Provoke)
- Hunter (6: Athletics, Investigate, Notice, Physique, Shoot, Stealth)
- Mystic (6: Empathy, Lore, Notice, Provoke, Rapport, Will)
- Scoundrel (6: Contacts, Deceive, Fight, Provoke, Stealth, Technology)
- Genius (6: Investigate, Lore, Pilot, Technology, “Secret Skill”, Will)
As you can see, I’m still having some trouble with the big tank mode, currently called bruiser. At 5 skills, it’s almost done, but it still doesn’t feel right. An obvious option would be to call in Soldier or Warrior, and add the Shoot into it’s skill list, but then it would have Athletics, Fighting, Physique, and Shoot all in one mode, and that feels a bit too good. I want the mode to be about being big, and tough, and strong, and scary… which it is right now, but that’s only 4 skills. I’ve added in Notice to bring the mode to 5 skills, but it’s Notice isn’t a great fit so much as not a bad fit, and I’m still a skill short. For similar reasons I’m leaning towards Contacts for a 6th skill, but again, it doesn’t fit well.
I’m also not sold the “Genius” mode name. The mode is supposed to about being smart and working well with technology, and I’ve considered Tech, Tech-Head, Engineer, Scientist, Scholar, Egghead, Brains, and others, but so far Genius is what feels the least wrong. This is in contrast to Ace, Agent, Hunter, and Scoundrel, which all felt about right as soon as I hit upon them. Mystic sort of grew on me as I was tweaking the mode skill table.
The good news is that this particular set of modes is work well in terms of skill representation. Each skill is represented at least twice, with the skills of Athletics, Investigate, Notice, Provoke, Stealth, Technology, and Will represented 3 times each. No skills is over or under represented in the list, and mostly it’s the broadly useful skills that are showing up 3 times.