So apparently Rotem forgot to take the Tracking skill for her character. The game is already running, we’re past character creation, so what should be done about this?
- Muna might just be a tribal princess that don’t know how to track. Problem: That’s not how Rotem imagines her. Being at ease in the wild is a big part of the character.
- Rotem can start investing in the Tracking skill, developing it just like any other new skill as she “levels up”, and we’ll just say “She was always good at tracking, it just that, it didn’t come up until now.” Problem: It did come up, and it might actually come up again before Rotem gets enough XP to invest in the skill. We don’t want to just ignore it until then, we prefer a solution here and now.
- Let’s just rebalance some parts of Muna’s character sheet and give her Tracking.
In skill-light systems, like Savage Worlds, this last suggestion is not only a common practice in our table, it’s even an integral part of the character creation process. Character creation only ends after 3 or 4 sessions – until then, the character is somewhat malleable, some stats can still change.
Some things are easy to change, without any need for in-game explanation. You find that you’re using Strength a lot more than you thought? Kick something else down and increase Str. You haven’t yet used an Edge, and you’re starting to think it’ll never be useful to you? Replace it with something else.
Other changes might require us to explain a specific incident during which you used stats that were later changed in a meaningful way. Rotem is going to change Muna’s Tracking skill but she wants to say Muna was always good at tracking, which means we need an explanation for that time she didn’t even rolled it. Perhaps she was distracted, or still too unfamiliar with Bogovian woods; perhaps there was a thick fog. Or maybe she did try, and simply failed. How did that make her feel? Perhaps she suddenly felt frightened, in this strange land, finding comfort in her mission or her friends.This failure can become a part of the character’s story.
Some things simply can’t be changed with an in-world explanation, but might still be malleable behind the scenes. If I play a cat-man from Mars, I can’t suddenly become a dog-man from Jupiter; however, I might be able to talk with my GM about why I don’t like the cat-man, and if it’s something relatively harmless, it can be changed. I don’t find the prehensile tail useful, and I like the dog-men’s sharp sense of smell – perhaps we can just say my cat-man don’t have a tail (what happened to it? cool question), and has a cyber-nose implant, in exchange.
Easily done in Savage Worlds, by the way – not having a tail is a Hindrance, and taking Hindrances allows you to buy Edges or get money with which you can explain the implant.
By the 4th or so session you’ve had plenty of time to test out your character “in the field”, and to make sure the mechanics represent your character as you imagine him or her. Any further change you’d like to make will have to be earned with XP, or as a result of things happening in the game’s story.
Yes, but WHY did Rotem forget to take Tracking
Erm, originally, she actually didn’t. We forced it after the fact, for a weird reason. On page 3, Rotem tries a hard Crystal Channeling check. Here’s how it originally went:
Muna’s original Crystal skill was only a d4, because Rotem wanted to be a novice with her own Crystal. She wanted to have the journey of gaining proficiency with using her Crystal, she though it’ll be fun. At first we thought, “pffft, what’s the problem, let’s just say she did it, without showing the dice results.” Aviv then noted, “This is a comics page. We’re a visual medium. We’re discussing dice. We’re explaining rules. We need to show the dice.” Yeah, well, hard to argue.
But that means that in order for her to make the check – which we needed her to do, for story reasons – she had to Ace the d4 roll. And we haven’t yet explained Aces and exploding dice, nor are we going to do that for quite some time (see in two weeks!). We went back through the required stages: Do we really need her to use that Crystal power? Hmm, yes. Can we give her any bonus? Not really. So we have to change her Crystal Channeling skill to be high enough to allow success without Acing (and also, let’s make Nadav forget a negative modifier).
However, to raise the skill from d4 to d8, we need to reduce some other skill by 2 points… Problem is, we liked all of her skills! That’s how Rotem would create a tribal princess!
Oh, you know what? Let’s make that into a story point, then!
Rotem’s backstory was retconned, and is now thus: During character creation she forgot about the Tracking skill. This is a thing that happens to players quite a lot. She took a d8 in Crystal because she wanted to utilise her high Spirit attribute – she’s the only one in the party with a d8 in Spirit, which is the limiting attribute for CC. However, after playing a few sessions, she sat with Nadav and the two discussed her character. She certainly wanted to have some Tracking skill, she felt it’s something Muna really should have; at the same time, she felt that the Crystal Channeling roll for the mind reading power was too easy. She now wants to experience the journey of gaining proficiency with using her Crystal, it’ll be fun!
These two problems fix each other, and she simply reduces her CC skill by 2, raising her Tracking instead.
(oh, and why did she forget specifically Tracking? To make Lily roll Streetwise instead, and send her to a Benny-spending craze, so useful in explaining Bennies.)
Two Players and Up is a weekly podcast in which we talk about the gaming highlights of our lives, with Aviv’s Factoid of the Week, the Patron Song, and ask for your help.
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The intro and outro are taken from “Vivacity” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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