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  • Questions regarding interpretation of the rules - Skill levels and specialties.

    Hello everyone.

    So here are some interesting questions, which I'm not really sure there is an actual definitive answer to.
    It's for V5.

    First question:
    Are the skill level generally comparable and equivalent to a different skill of the same level?
    To expand on this a little, Academics list level 3 as doctorate level, would this level be comparable to say Medicine level 3?
    My logic says that they are comparable, but are they really?

    Second question:
    How do we distinguish narratively between what is effectively the same skill level / dice pool from the skill?
    To expand a bit on this,
    Example:
    Medicine at level 4 lists surgeon as an occupation one might have been in life, that is the equivalent of 4 dice to a dice pool.
    Medicine at level 3 + specialty surgery, that is the equivalent of 4 dice to a dice pool.

    So how do we distinguish between this? From the perspective of the dice, there is no game mechanical difference nor narrative a difference that can be interpreted from the dice pool.
    Because when compared, the dice pools are identical. A level/dot add a dice and a specialty add a dice, so I will naturally assume that a specialty equals a skill at one level higher.

    Third question:
    Would a specialty be required to actually perform, when it's listed as a potential occupation at a certain level?
    To expand upon this, Medicine list surgeons at level 4, but you can select surgery already at level 1, in real life there are some actual requirements needed before one could become a surgeon.
    So would you actually need both Medicine at level 4 and the surgery specialty, or could you perform surgery without the specialty?

    Obviously, one could always attempt, but the reason I'm asking this question is actually to prove a point.
    Because, if one can perform a specialty action at given level without the specialty, but one could perform the specialty action at one lower level, they're effectively the same.
    The difference is, that the full level in the skill can be used in a broader range of specialty actions.

    Fourth question:
    Should a character with a skill+specialty that equals the same level of the same skill from a narrative perspective, be considered an equal in that particular field?
    To expand on this:
    Character A: Medicine 3 + Surgery = 4 dice
    Character B: Medicine 4 + No specialty = 4 dice
    Both have 4 dice when performing the specialty action, are they then equals in their fields?

    IF the answer for Question 4 is, yes they're are equal
    Then I can assume that,
    a specialty equals a skill at one level higher.

    However, would this be a correct conclusion?
    If so, what would you say are the crucial arguments?
    If not, what arguments support this?

    Thank you for reading and/or participating.

    //Inc.
    Last edited by Incarnate; 04-08-2022, 03:56 AM. Reason: Clarification: It's V5.

  • Kharnov
    replied
    I think the argument that has been made previously, that you should generally just intuit the narrative result from the ratings in Attribute and Skill, rather than care about which dice produced which successes, is the one that makes the most sense. If you really want that level of "granularity" though, it does seem like there's a relatively simple solution: split each dice pool into its Attribute and Skill components, roll them separately, and then add up the successes separately. I tend to think more about narrative than mechanics and statistical probabilities so maybe I'm missing something, but it doesn't seem like it would produce a statistically significant difference in the results; at the end of the day, you're rolling the same number of dice against the same Difficulty, just taking the time to note which successes came from where.

    But that's the big downside: Time.

    Handling things this way turns pretty much every dice roll into two dice rolls. It's not a huge difference in time, but it'll add up over the course of an hours-long session. And "too much time spent rolling dice" is one of the more common criticisms that can be directed at TTRPG systems when it gets in the way of letting the narrative flow. This is why just making an estimate based on the ratings of Attributes and Skills is better, it saves time that can then be spent on more fun rather than being nitpicky about the narrative needing to precisely reflect every single roll of the dice.

    And you definitely shouldn't be making someone fail an Academics roll just because all the successes came from Intelligence. Have it alter the description of the outcome, sure; the paper with Intelligence successes gets more points for generally solid reasoning, the one with more Academics successes gets points for technical proficiency and information specific to the field. But if 4 successes is a grade of 80%, then you get 80% regardless of whether the successes came from Intelligence or Academics. If you have any rating in Academics, that should cover the basics to ensure you aren't losing points for bad formatting, accidental (or obvious) plagiarism, etc. And if you don't have any rating in Academics, then you are just writing a paper based on Intelligence and it should probably fail, or at least be criticized, in an academic setting, but should still be rhetorically persuasive based on solid reasoning and general information.

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    Originally posted by Incarnate View Post
    Firstly, I can only work with the numbers you gave me,...
    Well, clearly you can work with other numbers, because I gave you a situation where I rolled a crit. That is, I rolled two 10s, for 4 successes. A 3/1 split is impossible in this situation, but you've talked about a 3/1 split anyway.

    ...and I'm not turning it into a failure, granted it's less of a success narratively.
    You are, but you're obfuscating it with this 3/1 split talk.

    Basically, you are advocating for a system where, instead of rolling Attribute + Skill to beat a Difficulty, you roll Attribute to beat a Difficulty, and Skill to beat the same Difficulty, and the practical results are dictated by the lower roll.

    So, in my setup, where the options are 4/0, 2/2, or 0/4, against a Difficulty of 1, I fail two of the three potential outcomes because I got zero on the worst roll. You want to bring up a 3/1 or 1/3 split because those are still successes at Difficulty of 1 rather than overt failures; thus you don't have to address my actual example.

    simply because one roll shouldn't dictate the result of something that has taking many years to complete.
    Why not? You know there are games out there where you never roll more than once for anything?

    And we're talking V5 specifically, which directly advocates for not turning something into multiple rolls unless there's a compelling reason such the difficulty changing over the course of the action. Unless there's an important reason to extend the roll into multiple rolls, how long it takes doesn't matter. Just writing a term paper should be a simple roll because it's a single action despite the months spent on it. There are certainly plot ways you can spice it up and justify an extended roll here, but those are plot reasons, not time.

    Adding rolls feels like a transparent way you're trying to mitigate issues with your ideas. If you roll a lot, on average, successes based on individual traits instead of full dice pools will map to your ratings in those traits. If you roll a little, there's an increased chance for highly incongruous results like my above example where my Int 3/Academics 3 character doesn't roll evenly between the two and thus doesn't actually feel like a balanced character that succeeds through equal applications of two traits.

    That really depends on interpretation,...
    What passage, exactly, is up for interpretation from the book?

    Even if looking at it statically, the paper would only reflect Intelligence 3 and Academics 1
    Why is my Int 3/Academics 3 character putting out an Int 3/Academics 1 paper with 4 successes? How is that a "correct" outcome?

    The whole idea behind interpreting the result of the roll based where the success / failures come from, would be to make a more correct narrative interpretation of what's actually happening.
    Sorry but, "something I like more," doesn't make it correct.

    The closest to an objective "correct" regarding the interpretation of dice in an RPG would be: "reflects the way the RPG uses words and numbers to define the character while still presenting the results in a fashion that aligns with their impact."

    Dividing Attribute and Skills successes is not a "more correct" method than leaving them combined and using the static ratings on the sheet to guide narration instead.

    You have yet to make any sort of case for what the benefits of the added work of tracking different types of dice, redoing the math of the system, rolling more often, and so on actually are compared to the simpler option of using the existing ratings on the sheet.
    Last edited by Heavy Arms; 04-13-2022, 06:24 PM.

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  • Incarnate
    replied
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

    OK, so you're turning a 4 success roll into a failure because I only got Intelligence successes and no Academic successes? Are you going to adjust the math of the system to make this not ruin most characters?
    Firstly, I can only work with the numbers you gave me, and I'm not turning it into a failure, granted it's less of a success narratively. But the interpretation is based on the attribute and skill level descriptions, but as I've also written in this post further down, I'd personally handle such a representation of such differently, simply because one roll shouldn't dictate the result of something that has taking many years to complete. I'd say the system isn't geared towards this sort of granularity, by design you can't distinguish the dice pool results as I just did, IF it was then that would also change the the difficulty and success criteria by design.

    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    In the system as written, I got 4 successes to write a paper, which is a damned good paper, and shouldn't be getting me a bad grade. Esp. because it's very unlikely I'm rolling that a lot and that might be the roll that determines my success for a whole year of grad school or even my entire PhD program's outcome as the system doesn't put a lot of stress on those to give me a lot of chances to roll enough get "even" more often.
    That really depends on interpretation, granted that the system isn't exactly designed with this sort of granularity in mind, but to interpret the roll correctly you'd have to look at what the results represent based on where the result is coming from, attribute or skill. Even if looking at it statically, the paper would only reflect Intelligence 3 and Academics 1 - so if you look at how these levels are worded, especially the Academics skill level of 1, it should make sense why I said it would be below university level, not because I feel like it, but because that's how level one in Academics and level 3 Intelligence is described.

    Personally, I wouldn't base it on a single roll, but series of rolls and take the average IF I was to base it on rolls.


    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    Because identifying it based on the way that rolls are being conducted is adding unnecessary complication: you can just use the static scores to the same result.
    The whole idea behind interpreting the result of the roll based where the success / failures come from, would be to make a more correct narrative interpretation of what's actually happening.

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    Originally posted by Incarnate View Post
    A paper with a strong amount of successes (3) from the intelligence and the least from academic (1), is not going to seem very academic, it's probably going to seem well written, use sound arguments, logic and reasoning, but despite of this, it's not going to be very academic - it's going to be very basic and below university level, so it would be likely to get a low academic score.
    OK, so you're turning a 4 success roll into a failure because I only got Intelligence successes and no Academic successes? Are you going to adjust the math of the system to make this not ruin most characters?

    In the system as written, I got 4 successes to write a paper, which is a damned good paper, and shouldn't be getting me a bad grade. Esp. because it's very unlikely I'm rolling that a lot and that might be the roll that determines my success for a whole year of grad school or even my entire PhD program's outcome as the system doesn't put a lot of stress on those to give me a lot of chances to roll enough get "even" more often.

    I agree with this, but it's not apparent inherently identifiable in the way that rolls are being conducted in the system.
    Because identifying it based on the way that rolls are being conducted is adding unnecessary complication: you can just use the static scores to the same result.

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  • Incarnate
    replied
    Originally posted by Karos View Post
    If you want to go into that level of detail and granularity you certainly can, however, I'd weigh up how much it's adding. In the extreme examples, it could be adding a lot, a genius with limited medical knowledge having to perform emergency surgery makes for great drama. However, if we're talking about one character with 3-dots and a speciality versus one with 4-dots, the difference wouldn't become apparent until they strayed from the specific task they were dealing with.
    The level of granularity could come out in a variety of ways and under various circumstances, not just in comparison to others of similar or equivalent dice pool levels.
    Because the results coming from the attribute rather than the skill, is much less refined, untrained and broad, while the coming from the skill, it's much more defined and trained.
    It all really depends on where the results on the dice is coming from, it should be interpreted and expressed narratively based on the where the results are coming from.

    Originally posted by Karos View Post
    E.g. two people with degrees in history, one with 3-dots+speciliaty the other 4-dots, will be largely indistinguishable assuming they stick to the speciality of the one with 3-dots. If they stray away from that topic then the one with 4-dots will have an edge, and that might begin to show, but it wouldn't be immediately obvious.
    That really depends on how their results turn out during their actions.
    Let me give some examples.
    Attribute 2 Skill 4 : The attribute dice is 50% less likely to succeed than the skill dice
    Attribute 3 Skill 3 : The attribute and skill dice have an equal likelihood of succeeding/failing.
    Attribute 4 Skill 2 : The attribute dice is 50% more likely to succeed than the skill dice
    Attribute 5 Skill 1 : The attribute dice is 66,667% more likely to succeed than the skill dice

    Did you notice a pattern?
    The point of it though, is that based on the ratio of the results: attribute vs. skill and/or specialty, the narrative outcome will be gravitate towards the higher likelyhood, which means that the narrative changes in relation to it. So if someone has Attribute 4 Skill 2 and got 3 successes, then it would be most likely to be 2 from attribute and 1 from skill. The specialty dice is the off dice.

    Originally posted by Karos View Post
    Also, leaving aside the extreme examples it wouldn't always be obvious to the PC's/NPC's where the dice that make up a pool come from. It's slightly easier for some of the academic skills that are tied directly to qualifications maybe, but in general, characters wouldn't know where the dots are. Maybe with sufficient time spent interacting with someone, you could get a sense of their pools, but in a chance encounter, you'd be hard-pressed to tell a pool of 3+3 from one of 2+4.
    I'd say that really depends on the outcome and how it's being narrated, but in terms of characters actually being able to ascertain the "levels", that definitely would require spending enough time with the other character in question, so the chance encounters definitely would be more likely to be indistinguishable.


    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    I'm not sure what that sort of granularity even looks like for the most part.

    I have Intelligence 3/Academics 3. I roll to write up my big final paper for the semester to further my career, etc. etc.

    I get 4 successes via crit!

    What does a paper with four successes on my Int dice look like vs. 2 from Int and 2 from Academics, vs. 4 from Academics?
    I'd say the more towards the attribute it is, the less trained and generic, it will basically be defined by the attribute, and the more towards the skill the more trained it will look and the more defined it will be.

    A paper with a strong amount of successes (3) from the intelligence and the least from academic (1), is not going to seem very academic, it's probably going to seem well written, use sound arguments, logic and reasoning, but despite of this, it's not going to be very academic - it's going to be very basic and below university level, so it would be likely to get a low academic score.

    A paper with an even success split between intelligence (2) and academics (2), would ideally be what you'd want, a good balance between the two, likely to get good academic score.

    A paper with an excellent amount of successes (4) from the academics skill but none from intelligence, would be using a lot of facts, advanced terminology, various theories, but would lack a lot of important things and may even fail at actually making full sense all the time, because all the various aspects that intelligence would help with isn't actually present in the results of the roll. It might get a good academic score and it might not, despite the four successes.

    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    The whole point of the Attribute + Skill dice pool, going back to the early 80s long before WW used it, was that actions are a mix in innate ability and training. If you know what to look for you can spot a Dex 4/Brawl 2 vs a Dex 2/Brawl 4 character by watching them fight and observe their technique vs agility in action over time; not be watching each combat action and seeing where the successes came from and from their intuit ratings based on the idea that over time successes will come from the higher of the two more frequently.
    I agree with this, but it's not apparent inherently identifiable in the way that rolls are being conducted in the system.

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    I'm not sure what that sort of granularity even looks like for the most part.

    I have Intelligence 3/Academics 3. I roll to write up my big final paper for the semester to further my career, etc. etc.

    I get 4 successes via crit!

    What does a paper with four successes on my Int dice look like vs. 2 from Int and 2 from Academics, vs. 4 from Academics?

    When are the gradations between those ever going to matter?

    The whole point of the Attribute + Skill dice pool, going back to the early 80s long before WW used it, was that actions are a mix in innate ability and training. If you know what to look for you can spot a Dex 4/Brawl 2 vs a Dex 2/Brawl 4 character by watching them fight and observe their technique vs agility in action over time; not be watching each combat action and seeing where the successes came from and from their intuit ratings based on the idea that over time successes will come from the higher of the two more frequently.

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  • Karos
    replied
    Originally posted by Incarnate View Post
    Personally, I think it's actually an important aspect to keep in mind, especially due to the fact, that you'd be able to interpret the result narratively much more correctly, and with a lot more granularity...and all you'd really need is just to use different dice or different colored dice to represent attribute, skill and specialty respectively.

    If you want to go into that level of detail and granularity you certainly can, however, I'd weigh up how much it's adding. In the extreme examples, it could be adding a lot, a genius with limited medical knowledge having to perform emergency surgery makes for great drama. However, if we're talking about one character with 3-dots and a speciality versus one with 4-dots, the difference wouldn't become apparent until they strayed from the specific task they were dealing with.

    E.g. two people with degrees in history, one with 3-dots+speciliaty the other 4-dots, will be largely indistinguishable assuming they stick to the speciality of the one with 3-dots. If they stray away from that topic then the one with 4-dots will have an edge, and that might begin to show, but it wouldn't be immediately obvious.

    Also, leaving aside the extreme examples it wouldn't always be obvious to the PC's/NPC's where the dice that make up a pool come from. It's slightly easier for some of the academic skills that are tied directly to qualifications maybe, but in general, characters wouldn't know where the dots are. Maybe with sufficient time spent interacting with someone, you could get a sense of their pools, but in a chance encounter, you'd be hard-pressed to tell a pool of 3+3 from one of 2+4.

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  • Incarnate
    replied
    Originally posted by SetiteFriend View Post
    Oh, I'd simply assume it came from the greater one.
    Personally, I think it's actually an important aspect to keep in mind, especially due to the fact, that you'd be able to interpret the result narratively much more correctly, and with a lot more granularity...and all you'd really need is just to use different dice or different colored dice to represent attribute, skill and specialty respectively.

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    Originally posted by SetiteFriend View Post
    Oh, I'd simply assume it came from the greater one.
    This, at least at the extremes.

    When narrating (and this has been true for decades because the 1e of the games still had the same basic consideration of building dice-pools), you just base it off the ratings. A low Attribute/high skill character is narrated based on their high skill, and vice versa.

    If you really want more flavor options, also consider traits that might abstractly apply but don't because you only roll Attribute + Ability. There's a lot you can do with things like using high Dex/medium Int/high Medicine to use the high Dex to add to descriptions of actions. A doctor might be rolling Int + Medicine to diagnose a problem, but you can talk about how their adept fingers expertly palpate a nodule to let them sort through years of experience to know exactly what's wrong based on the smallest reactions to their light touches.

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  • SetiteFriend
    replied
    Oh, I'd simply assume it came from the greater one.

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  • Incarnate
    replied
    Originally posted by SetiteFriend View Post

    You can limit the applications if lacking the corresponding skill. It is supported in page 412: "Some systems simply can’t be cracked with low Larceny ratings; for example, Larceny 1 lets you pick a Yale lock but not defeat a keypad or crack a safe." Other things are also limited by your skill, like healing with Medicine. The maximum amount you can heal is capped by half your skill rating for example.

    But a 1-5 combination will generally never come up, and the rest aren't hard to rationalize.
    My point was in the sense, that you don't know which result is coming from, the attribute or the skill, hence why it'd be difficult to narratively distinguish between them.

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  • SetiteFriend
    replied
    Originally posted by Incarnate View Post
    I don't know if this is just me, but it just feels a bit off, because your suggestion also hints at something else.
    Namely that game mechanically, it doesn't matter how you have the dots distributed, because the dice pool isn't separated, so you don't know which from which part of the dice pool that is giving you success or failure. So a character with a total dice pool of say 6, could be a character with either:
    1. Attribute 1 + Skill 5 = 6 dice.
    2. Attribute 2 + Skill 4 = 6 dice.
    3. Attribute 3 + Skill 3 = 6 dice.
    4. Attribute 4 + Skill 2 = 6 dice.
    5. Attribute 5 + Skill 1 = 6 dice.
      Could also be combined with a specialty and lower attribute or skill to reach the total of 6 dice.
    All can achieve the same game mechanically, even narratively because the characters can always attempt something (even specialty actions) as long as they have at least a level in the skill.
    The two most glaring examples would be 1 and 5, as it makes no distinction between attribute and skill in the dice pool, you have no idea what is going on narratively because the result from the attribute and skill are mixed together. I guess some would say that's a feature rather than a design flaw of the system, though personally I find that it's the latter, because you can achieve things that really doesn't make sense realistically and narratively, and also can't distinguish between what is what in the result of the skill check. Furthermore, you can have some combinations that really seems very unrealistic, like say intelligence 1 medicine 5, but mechanically you can achieve the same results as with attribute 5 and skill 1.
    You can limit the applications if lacking the corresponding skill. It is supported in page 412: "Some systems simply can’t be cracked with low Larceny ratings; for example, Larceny 1 lets you pick a Yale lock but not defeat a keypad or crack a safe." Other things are also limited by your skill, like healing with Medicine. The maximum amount you can heal is capped by half your skill rating for example.

    But a 1-5 combination will generally never come up, and the rest aren't hard to rationalize.

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  • Incarnate
    replied
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    It would probably be useful to specify which edition of the game you're using. It sounds like you mean V5 (the examples of descriptions, the mechanics involved), but other editions used the +1 dice method and have more structured ideas of what each dot means across different Abilities.
    It indeed is V5 I speaking about.

    Originally posted by SetiteFriend View Post
    More or less yes? A rating of 4 will always be a specialist in the field, 5 being masterful, etc.
    Good to know, that was also my logic, is it actually stated in the book somewhere, because if it is, then I missed it.

    Originally posted by SetiteFriend View Post
    Taking Surgery at level 1 means that amongst your first aid level knowledge, you decided to learn more about surgery, or you just have a talent for it or something. But usually you can perform actions without specialties.

    Remember it is always cheaper to learn a new specialty than go up a skill level. Going from level 3 to 4 is 12xp, learning a specialty is 3xp.
    I don't know if this is just me, but it just feels a bit off, because your suggestion also hints at something else.
    Namely that game mechanically, it doesn't matter how you have the dots distributed, because the dice pool isn't separated, so you don't know which from which part of the dice pool that is giving you success or failure. So a character with a total dice pool of say 6, could be a character with either:
    1. Attribute 1 + Skill 5 = 6 dice.
    2. Attribute 2 + Skill 4 = 6 dice.
    3. Attribute 3 + Skill 3 = 6 dice.
    4. Attribute 4 + Skill 2 = 6 dice.
    5. Attribute 5 + Skill 1 = 6 dice.
      Could also be combined with a specialty and lower attribute or skill to reach the total of 6 dice.
    All can achieve the same game mechanically, even narratively because the characters can always attempt something (even specialty actions) as long as they have at least a level in the skill.
    The two most glaring examples would be 1 and 5, as it makes no distinction between attribute and skill in the dice pool, you have no idea what is going on narratively because the result from the attribute and skill are mixed together. I guess some would say that's a feature rather than a design flaw of the system, though personally I find that it's the latter, because you can achieve things that really doesn't make sense realistically and narratively, and also can't distinguish between what is what in the result of the skill check. Furthermore, you can have some combinations that really seems very unrealistic, like say intelligence 1 medicine 5, but mechanically you can achieve the same results as with attribute 5 and skill 1.

    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
    Which edition are we talking about?
    In 5th, you'll need six dice to be sufficiently competent in a field. If you just have 4 dice you'll quite frequently fail "normal" things. If you've got four dice in prior editions, you're much more reliable when it comes to "normal" difficulty things, though you could succeed on very difficult things through luck.
    It's fifth, as mentioned in this post, and the revised OP.
    Yes, it was easier to succeed reliably in previous editions with just four dice.
    You can achieve 6 dice in various ways though.

    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
    As to actually putting skills together with qualifications?
    It's a suggestion, a vague idea, not a rule.
    I finished my BA not knowing much more than I did after high school (maybe my highschool did a good job, maybe my degree was a joke, maybe I'm stupid, maybe it's a combination of such factors). Sometimes, you can learn more in a few hours than you can learn over a few years.
    It might be a suggestion, though I'd be inclined to say a suggestive guideline, but despite it being suggestive some STs take those "suggestions/guidelines" much more literal - as a written rule.
    Which means, one would potentially end up with having to put more levels mechanically to fit the narrative.

    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
    Fourth question?
    While they might be equal, society still has it's prejudices. To a layman, an inept doctor is still above a master nurse, A fresh-faced lieutenant is the superior of a veteran master sergeant.
    So you're agreeing with that they're actually to be considered equal, so one for example with medicine 3 + specialty surgery, would be an equal to one with medicine 4 in the field of surgery?
    Because basically, while the one with medicine 4 is better overall in the general field of medicine would by society's prejudice be inferior in the field of surgery because it doesn't have the specialization in surgery?

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  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    Which edition are we talking about?
    In 5th, you'll need six dice to be sufficiently competent in a field. If you just have 4 dice you'll quite frequently fail "normal" things. If you've got four dice in prior editions, you're much more reliable when it comes to "normal" difficulty things, though you could succeed on very difficult things through luck.



    As to actually putting skills together with qualifications?
    It's a suggestion, a vague idea, not a rule.
    I finished my BA not knowing much more than I did after high school (maybe my highschool did a good job, maybe my degree was a joke, maybe I'm stupid, maybe it's a combination of such factors). Sometimes, you can learn more in a few hours than you can learn over a few years.

    Fourth question?
    While they might be equal, society still has it's prejudices. To a layman, an inept doctor is still above a master nurse, A fresh-faced lieutenant is the superior of a veteran master sergeant.

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