APTS Skill System v4.0

Overview

Current attribute/skill systems that I’ve seen (e.g. D&D, Shadowrun, maybe that Vampire game) simply treat the two as modifiers the linearly stack. The problem with this approach is that the effective value, namely the value used in play, must therefore be regularly calculated and updated, and there really is NO difference between a skill and an attribute except that the attribute has wider use and must be made more expensive to purchase in the system.

I want an alternative. I like the idea of having one effective value in play, but I also want to maintain a separation between attributes and skills, so that the character can approach old situations with expertise but still be relatively dumbfounded against new challenges. Bartle’s learning ladder reflects four stages of learning, stages also suggested in:

http://www.businessballs.com/consciouscompetencelearningmodel.htm

I like the idea of having the attribute and skill statistics representing not a list of features of the character like the list of features of a computer program, but an ever-changing list of that character’s learning and development. Below is an attempt to build a system more like this, keeping in mind that I still want to keep one effective value in focus, versus an effective value that must be stacked or calculated.

Attributes

Attributes define aspects of a character that control how rapidly the character grows with learning in a given physical, mental, or social domain, as well as limits on a character’s ability to learn within a given domain. “Strength” does not fit in this category, since exercise and repetition is all that is needed to build one’s strength. “Microbiology” does not fit in this category since, although it grows with learning, it doesn’t control how quickly the character grows. “Agility”, “Dexterity”, and “Memory Assimilation” might be examples of attributes as defined here, since they control how quickly a character learns to dance, learns to juggle, or learns Chemistry, respectively.

The mechanics of Attributes controls how quickly a character’s Techniques or Specializations upgrade in category, how quickly the character can adopt a new Profession and how quickly newly-learned Specializations disappear. Unlike the other APTS, attributes are fixed with the creation of the character unless something very significant happens to the character, such as divine magic. Such alterations fundamentally change the physicality or personality of the character, however. Attributes have the follow categories:

Professions

A Profession is a broad category of skills that a character has, which requires the use of many attributes in order to learn. It is also the base effective score used in play, when the character performs a skill check. Counter to the rules in the rest of the system, it’s value never changes during play, only out of play, with exceptions of when a significantly large amount of ingame time passes.

Professions have a base number of Chits spent on them. This chit value is then multiplied by the scores of the character’s techniques, to form a one-layer matrix. Whenever the player needs to perform a skill check, the player uses the base value that was previously calculated from “Profession Base” * “Technique Mod”, where the latter value is the relevant Technique Modifier, which is based on the level of the Technique.

Techniques

Techniques are a category of skill requiring only the use of one or very few specific attributes in order to learn. Examples are garden-tending, jiujitsu, or dancing.

Techniques have a deeper mechanic than Professions, and are measured on a scale from 0 to 7 for the standard range, though it can go higher for super beings and Gods:

  1. Unconscious incompetence – chits spent here are burnt and skill-stacking is impossible; the technique is not written on the character sheet
  2. Conscious incompetence (1st) – chits spent here are burnt and skill-stacking is impossible; the technique is recorded on the character sheet but disappears after a few sessions if not used during those sessions (“few” depending on how high the character’s relevant attribute is)
  3. Conscious incompetence (2nd) – skill-stacking is impossible; the technique is recorded on the character sheet but disappears after a few sessions if not used during those sessions (“few” depending on how high the character’s relevant attribute is); chits are recovered at a loss if the technique is lost
  4. Conscious competence (1st) – skill-stacking is impossible; the technique is permanently written on the character sheet
  5. Conscious competence (2nd) – skill-stacking suffers a large penalty; double-stacking is impossible (NEW IDEA)
  6. Conscious competence (3rd) – skill-stacking suffers a medium penalty; double-stacking is impossible
  7. Conscious competence (4th) – skill-stacking suffers a small penalty; double-stacking suffers a large penalty
  8. Unconscious competence – skill-stacking has no penalty; double-stacking suffers a medium penalty
  9. Unconscious supercompetence (1st) – skill-stacking has no penalty; double-stacking suffers a small penalty; triple-stacking suffers a large penalty
  10. Unconscious supercompetence (2nd) – pattern for skill-stacking (triple, quadruple, etc) continues as above.
Note that each level has a competence modifier associated with it. This modifier is multiplied by the base “Profession” score of the most relevant Profession whenever a skill check needs to be made. The modifier is x1 at the level of Unconscious competence, because these are the characters’ most favoured skills, and the modifier does not grow at supercompetence levels (i.e. only the skill-stacking ability grows.) All techniques have an associated learning curve as well. For simple things such as rock-skipping, the learning curve is shallow. For complex things, the learning curve is extremely high. The GM should make a judgement call in most cases. For characters whose attributes aren’t high enough, they are unable to achieve greatness in Techniques for the related attribute.

Specializations

Specializations are, in fact, mechanically identical to Techniques. The difference is the learning curve, which made shallower at the expense of the skill’s general applicability.

The APTS System in Play

Using the system is straightforward. For any given situation requiring a skill check, the player chooses an attribute and:

Example Characters