Skill Defaults and Purchase

Note: This is a rough page, still needs some polish.

Just a quick run-through on how Skill Defaults work.

Here is a brand-new character, Test Dude. He has spent 0 of his 150 starting Character Points, so he is “average” in every way: all attributes are 10, and he has no Advantages, Disadvantages, or Skills.

We spend 150 CP in various attributes. The number in the brackets is how many points we spend on that attribute; the actual attribute itself is the value in the box. So for example, giving Test Dude a ST of 12 costs 20 CP (pp. 14-15 of Characters).

Next, we give Test Dude exactly two skills: Guns(Pistol) and Research.

Guns(Pistol) is a DX/E skill (that is, it is based off of Test Dude’s DEXTERITY (DX) and is an EASY (E) skill). Reading the Skill Cost Table on p. 170 of Characters (also found on p. 13 of the free GURPS Lite)…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…we look down the Easy column and see that 1 point buys Test Dude that Easy skill at a level of “Attribute+0.” The attribute in this case is DX, Test Dude’s DX is 14, so 14 + 0 = 14, his effective skill level for using the Guns(Pistol) skill.

Similarly, Research is an IQ/A skill (that is, it is based off of Test Dude’s INTELLIGENCE (IQ) and is an AVERAGE (A) skill). Looking down the Average column, we see that 1 point buys Test Dude that Average skill at a level of “Attribute-1.” The attribute in this case is IQ, Test Dude’s IQ is 11, so 11 – 1 = 10, his effective skill level for using the Research skill.

Again, the number in brackets is the point cost — 1 CP in each case, so far. The Level is the important value here in play — that is your effective skill level when using that skill, that is, to successfully make an unmodified Research check, Test Dude would need to roll 3d6 and total 10 or less to succeed. (Relative Level is there as a reminder of which attribute the skill is based on and the, well, relative level).

I want Test Dude to be a bit better at Research than that, so instead of spending 1 CP, I spend 4 CP. Using the same Skill Cost Table above, going down the Average column shows that 4 points buys Test Dude an Average skill at a level of “Attribute+1.” The attribute in this case is IQ, Test Dude’s IQ is 11, so 11 + 1 = 12, his new effective skill level for using the Research skill.

At times, Test Dude may be called on to use an Administration skill. He has no training in this skill — that is, he has invested 0 CP in it — so when the need arises, he will have to use it at a default level (p. 173 of Characters).

The only time you ever need to look at defaults is if the character does not have even a single point invested in a skill. If they do, ignore defaults entirely. The defaults listed for Administration are “IQ-5, Merchant-3,” meaning if the character has no CP invested in Administration, they can instead roll against their “IQ-5” or againt their skill with “Merchant-3,” whichever is better. Test Dude does not know the Merchant skill, so that is not an option for him. If he wants to give Administration a try at default, he has to use “IQ-5.” In his case, IQ is 11, so 11 – 5 = 6. If he wants to use the Administration skill, he must roll 3d6 and total 6 or less (not easy, but better than nothing!)

To further illustrate, let’s have Test Dude invest 1 CP into the Merchant skill. Just like Research, Merchant is an IQ/A skill (that is, it is based off of Test Dude’s INTELLIGENCE (IQ) and is an AVERAGE (A) skill). Looking down the Average column, we see that 1 point buys Test Dude that Average skill at a level of “Attribute-1.” The attribute in this case is IQ, Test Dude’s IQ is 11, so 11 – 1 = 10, his effective skill level for using the Merchant skill.

Notice that even though Test Dude still has 0 points invested in the Administration skill, its Level has increased from 6 to 7. This is because Test Dude now has two possible values to use for the default. As explained above, he had to default to “IQ-5,” which in his case is 6. But now he has the Merchant skill, so he can also use “Merchant-3,” which in his case is 7. He chooses the better of the two, so his current default level for Administration is 7.

Finally, if he invests even a single CP into the Administration skill, it is no longer using the default rules in any way. Once CPs are spent on a skill, it follows the same rules for all other skills and ignore defaults entirely.

As with Research and Merchant, Administration is an IQ/A skill (that is, it is based off of Test Dude’s INTELLIGENCE (IQ) and is an AVERAGE (A) skill). Looking down the Average column, we see that 1 point buys Test Dude that Average skill at a level of “Attribute-1.” The attribute in this case is IQ, Test Dude’s IQ is 11, so 11 – 1 = 10, his effective skill level now for using the Administration skill.

 

Hopefully that takes some of the mystery out of spending Character Points for Skills and how skill defaults work!