Viking Skills

So, I don’t think I’ve posted anything on the skills for the viking rpg I’m making yet. I’m not yet sure exactly what to do with these yet, but here’s some thoughts.

Skill Levels

I think keeping the skill levels few might be preferable for this kind of system. Four or five different ones should be enough, going from incompetent (-1), to “common” (+0), to skilled (+1), to excellent (+2), and possibly legendary  (+3). The numbers are nothing absolute yet, just for reference. Most people should be average at most skills to start out with. I’m also thinking about having slow or rare skill advancement, because that seems to fit the fiction. People don’t quickly change their proficiency during “micro-time”, but what changes do occur occurs during “macro-time”. But I’ll have to think more on that.

Skill List

So what kind of skills are needed here? Well, fighting and law are really useful. Athletics, hunting, farming, sailing, crafting, legend lore, healing, skaldic art, and so on might be useful. Really, fighting should probably be separated from the other skills due to its broad usability. Maybe law too. Or you could divide these into the groups of strength, handiwork, and wisdom, and level the groups in some way?

Or you could just merge smaller skills together: sailing and hunting becomes Travelling, crafting and farming becomes… “Homestead work”… Unsure of just what to call that. Legends and skalding can be the same, and healing could be expanded with herb lore. That leaves six total skills… plus one or two for magic, maybe?

This is how far I’ve come on this. Hopefully I haven’t missed anything important just because it’s late… Again. Until next time!

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5 thoughts on “Viking Skills

  1. I find that skills really shape how a player feels about the world they find themselves in. It’s like the old saying”If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Skills provide a crucial interface point that determinism the mindset of the character in question. Players want to feel useful and capable, so they will attempt to approach situations in such a way that their skills get the most utility (e.g. the barbarian is going to fight everything, the bard is going to attempt to seduce the dragon, etc.) With that being said, spend some time thinking about what your skills say about your world and how you want players interacting with it.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! 🙂 I agree, which skills exist (or don’t) really change the way players act. The thing I’m trying to do here is mostly trying to emulate the feel of the actual viking sagas (written down in the ~13th century). That’s the reason for law-lore and fighting prowess being more important than most other things, as those are the things that change the course of the saga the most (apart from deceit). The other skills should obviously be useful as well, but are likely to be less so than war and law. But the alternatives are mostly given by history and fiction already, what remains is deciding how they work and how to group them.

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      1. I think it sounds like a good project, and looking forward to seeing how it turns out. My concern would be what I call the ‘Pendragon Problem’ where if you have only a small selection of skills, characters all start feeling the same and there is just going to be 1 person who is objectively the best.

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        1. Yeah, I’m trying to think of ways to allow people to differentiate their characters. Maybe things like allowing weapon or field specialities in combat and law knowledge allows more variation, in addition to the other skills. Also, “talents” or special abilities, as well as possibly magical spells or items, could do the trick too. But it certainly bears thinking about. Pondering if there are any more smart ways to do this without resorting to splitting the skills into too narrow parts…

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          1. The struggle is real. You got to balance being true to the subject material with trying to give players some freedom. I would start with brainstorming up the different types of characters you want to support. Also, possibly take a look at Hill folk which does some very interesting things with character interaction. Good luck!

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