Help with skills and stuff for a puppy/youngster

POSTED: Tue May 22, 2018 10:56 am

Hello, it's Silver again, back at it with skill trouble.

So I have Alvira Phoenix, whom I hope to pick up in the summer. Her skills are a bit of a mess and I could use some help with making sure that it's okay/acceptable. Here is her skills section (More info/descriptions in the Show thing) (The post-shifting skills section with the skill levels is mainly a note for me since my brain needs that for some weird reason.)

So, the pre-shifting skills are mainly what she was exposed to when she was younger. Her reading levels were based off of mine when I was her age, roughly. I may not be the best to base off of since I was a bit advanced, though I did note that some concepts or aspects might take longer for her to get the hang of or understand an she needs an explanation or a demonstration (also based off of me).

Her fighting skills were the hardest bit for me and I tried to give her a lot of weaknesses and drawbacks. She was training regularly for a lot of her fighting skills but I don't want to make her too overpowered. I also tried to explain her basic first aid skill as just simple things like a cut or small scratch she can do but not a serious wound or a cold. I also tried to clarify her ornithomancy as just impressions or feelings from what she interprets from the bird's behaviors and her visions are rare and happen when she hallucinates or is dreaming.

I gave her a skilled/proficient for Running, stealth, climbing, evasion, agility (I need to condense that probably) since some of it was natural and she build upon that. I did lower the animal handling level from intermediate to competent, though Alvira was raised around birds and some other animals so I'm not sure if she can be at proficient in that or not. I tried to make her other skills quite a bit weaker, especially her fighting skills since I remember what happened with Seraphina and her large amount of combat skills.

Should I change or adjust anything? I am working on Laskys where she does train and learn things so I have something to go off of (her weapon training one should be up today once I finish it). Is there anything I should keep in mind?

TL;DR: Are Alvira's skills okay/realistic and what should be fixed/changed?

(Sorry if some parts don't make sense, I'm a bit sleep deprived and fried)

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Silverfrost
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POSTED: Tue May 22, 2018 8:19 pm

Pre-shift skills look okay to me, except for "Has been exposed to magic since she was young," which I find unnecessary and misleading as it 1) isn't a skill, but a note of exposure, and 2) implies the existence of magic. As you probably already know, belief in magic is fine, actual magic is not, and all references to magic -- both IC and OOC -- should be very clear on this. In the IC sphere, it is definitely possible to write magic in a way that emphasizes a character's belief, while still being clear to the reader that it is only a character's belief.

The post-shifting section presents a lot more problems as it includes skills mostly as broad headings, which might encompass a lot of different things, but does not elaborate. For example, "animal handling," does not specify species or limitations. It's difficult to extrapolate "expanded on" skills since animal handling isn't mentioned in pre-shifting skills, merely comprehension of certain low speech dialects, which is definitely not the same as "animal handling." You can talk to a crow while not having any idea how to hold one.

For birds in particular, especially more intelligent species like raptors and corvids, "handling" as a skill is kind of questionable, in my opinion, since a lot depends on the temperament of individual birds. With animals like horses, where a Luperci demonstrates full ownership, in most cases, handling experience can be found in how to act around horses, how to maintain their health, grooming, tack handling, and other related things, but just because a character is exposed to a lot of birds doesn't mean that all birds will automatically like them. For "partnership"-type animals in the 'Soulsverse, "handling" can be a misleading sort of skill. I would take this away entirely and maybe instead focus on experience with low speech, interpretation, and an ability to gain birds' trust that way.

"Animal handling" is vague and can be misleading. "Low speech fluency" is specific, clear, not misleading, and can lead into the same sort of skill demonstration you're probably looking for.

Many prior concerns apply to "Ornithomancy, spells, rituals, magic" as well. I think conflating of terms may also contribute to this. "Skill" and "knowledge" have different implications. If a character is described as "skilled" in magic, the immediate assumption is that magic exists. Someone "knowledgeable" about magic doesn't have the same immediate implication.

"Literacy" apparently "Started after shifting," but she can read pre-shifting?

"Hunting" is vague and a post-shift skill implies bipedal hunting which implies use of a weapon which isn't specified. Hunting can be learned pre-shift and a lot of adult Luperci still hunt in Lupus form because it's their natural hunting form and requires no extra equipment.

"Fighting" skills are once again vague and cover a wide swath of types. The list implies intention to develop all three types of fighting equally, which we've discouraged before.

'Souls doesn't have a numbers system for stats or skills, but the idea is still there and encouraged via realistic development of skills. Imagine that all characters start with 5 skill points and gain 5 skill points every six months. A one year old character has 10 whole SP to invest in skills. As a Luperci, some skills like "Running" and "Hunting (in Lupus form)" might start off at a 2 because they're natural skills for the species. Maybe Alvira invests 3 SP into corvid low speech and 1 into cat low speech. That's already 4 SP used. 2 SP for basic reading skills. 4 SP remain to invest in fighting. What kind of fighting? Knife fighting and sword fighting take SP separately, though maybe investing SP in one reduces the SP cost for the other. It's not hard to imagine a whole system for this, and even though 'Souls doesn't mandate one, it may help illustrate investment into skills.

Skill points are basically time. If you spend time on one skill you can't spend it on another. Investment in some skills may help reduce time needed to be better at related skills, but you still need time.
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POSTED: Wed May 23, 2018 12:38 pm

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:Pre-shift skills look okay to me, except for "Has been exposed to magic since she was young," which I find unnecessary and misleading as it 1) isn't a skill, but a note of exposure, and 2) implies the existence of magic. As you probably already know, belief in magic is fine, actual magic is not, and all references to magic -- both IC and OOC -- should be very clear on this. In the IC sphere, it is definitely possible to write magic in a way that emphasizes a character's belief, while still being clear to the reader that it is only a character's belief.

I could note that as a footnote or a note that it's only the belief in magic? She was raised in a coven and would be exposed to their magic and would later learn how to do her own rituals and spells.

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:The post-shifting section presents a lot more problems as it includes skills mostly as broad headings, which might encompass a lot of different things, but does not elaborate. For example, "animal handling," does not specify species or limitations. It's difficult to extrapolate "expanded on" skills since animal handling isn't mentioned in pre-shifting skills, merely comprehension of certain low speech dialects, which is definitely not the same as "animal handling." You can talk to a crow while not having any idea how to hold one.

For birds in particular, especially more intelligent species like raptors and corvids, "handling" as a skill is kind of questionable, in my opinion, since a lot depends on the temperament of individual birds. With animals like horses, where a Luperci demonstrates full ownership, in most cases, handling experience can be found in how to act around horses, how to maintain their health, grooming, tack handling, and other related things, but just because a character is exposed to a lot of birds doesn't mean that all birds will automatically like them. For "partnership"-type animals in the 'Soulsverse, "handling" can be a misleading sort of skill. I would take this away entirely and maybe instead focus on experience with low speech, interpretation, and an ability to gain birds' trust that way.

"Animal handling" is vague and can be misleading. "Low speech fluency" is specific, clear, not misleading, and can lead into the same sort of skill demonstration you're probably looking for.

I made edits to the post-shifting skills to Low-Speech Fluency now.

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:Many prior concerns apply to "Ornithomancy, spells, rituals, magic" as well. I think conflating of terms may also contribute to this. "Skill" and "knowledge" have different implications. If a character is described as "skilled" in magic, the immediate assumption is that magic exists. Someone "knowledgeable" about magic doesn't have the same immediate implication.

Maybe I could make a footnote that it's her own beliefs? I made some notes about the magical skills in her Future Skills section as well. I could fix the words skill to knowledge?

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:"Literacy" apparently "Started after shifting," but she can read pre-shifting?

I kind of thought that Avinalora would at least have read to her and Alvira might know a bit about reading before she could shift. I moved the pre-shifting reading note to her post-shifting section.

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:"Hunting" is vague and a post-shift skill implies bipedal hunting which implies use of a weapon which isn't specified. Hunting can be learned pre-shift and a lot of adult Luperci still hunt in Lupus form because it's their natural hunting form and requires no extra equipment.

I noted in her Future Skills section (which is more of elaboration) that she mainly hunts in her feral forms which is mostly in Secui form which she wouldn't have access to before shifting. I'll note to form in post-shifting.

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:"Fighting" skills are once again vague and cover a wide swath of types. The list implies intention to develop all three types of fighting equally, which we've discouraged before.

I noted in the Future Skills section that she is notably weakest in unarmed combat, slightly better in feral combat, and best in armed combat. I also made sure to note her weaknesses which each fighting type. I don't plan for her to

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:'Souls doesn't have a numbers system for stats or skills, but the idea is still there and encouraged via realistic development of skills. Imagine that all characters start with 5 skill points and gain 5 skill points every six months. A one year old character has 10 whole SP to invest in skills. As a Luperci, some skills like "Running" and "Hunting (in Lupus form)" might start off at a 2 because they're natural skills for the species. Maybe Alvira invests 3 SP into corvid low speech and 1 into cat low speech. That's already 4 SP used. 2 SP for basic reading skills. 4 SP remain to invest in fighting. What kind of fighting? Knife fighting and sword fighting take SP separately, though maybe investing SP in one reduces the SP cost for the other. It's not hard to imagine a whole system for this, and even though 'Souls doesn't mandate one, it may help illustrate investment into skills.

Skill points are basically time. If you spend time on one skill you can't spend it on another. Investment in some skills may help reduce time needed to be better at related skills, but you still need time.

I have planned for her to mainly focus on armed combat (her future skills section did note that she would be training in only one weapon, a Nanigata which is a spear but with a blade-like edge) and be notably weaker at other forms of combat (though I kind of thought some aspects of feral combat would almost be instinctual?).

I thought that some skills that were natural (running, hunting, some aspects of feral combat such as biting and clawing, etc.) wouldn't involve as much time invested as armed combat or reading unless the character was going for mastery in the level?

And would the corvid and cat low-speech cost anything since she was raised in a family with a cat that was almost like a nanny/family member and she was raised around her mother speaking to her birds and around a couple of corvids? I thought it would be similar to growing up in a multi-lingual household?

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POSTED: Wed May 23, 2018 3:49 pm

Re: magic, I just wouldn't mention this in a "skills" section at all. Consider having another section altogether to address ritual magic and knowledge thereof.

I kind of thought that Avinalora would at least have read to her and Alvira might know a bit about reading before she could shift. I moved the pre-shifting reading note to her post-shifting section.


You don't learn to read by being read to... :P Knowing about reading isn't the same as reading. Changes look fine though.

I noted in the Future Skills section that she is notably weakest in unarmed combat, slightly better in feral combat, and best in armed combat. I also made sure to note her weaknesses which each fighting type.


Having weaknesses don't necessarily balance out having skill. Consider that even if someone is bad at playing piano, they still invested time and energy to learn to play piano -- they used "skill points" on it, regardless of never becoming an expert.

Even if Alvira is "worst" at unarmed combat, if she trained in it, she devoted time to it, and that's time she didn't spend honing combat skills in other areas. Using our SP analogy, even a character investing 3-4 SP into something might not be great at it. Sometimes SP/time investments don't bear the fruit you want, and that's realistic.

I agree that many aspects of feral combat would be instinctual, but those are also things that I don't feel are worth including in a list of skills either. Every canine can fight. It's only worth mentioning if they're particularly good or particularly bad at it. I think I mentioned previously that it's good to consider that not every single little thing is worth mentioning, since mentioning it implies that it's significant, which implies probably a higher skill level than intended.

Re: multiilngual learning. The learning curve would be smaller for characters raised in and around the language, so perhaps consider it as an SP discount on the skill, but it'd still take some time and specific, intended learning to pick it up, especially considering this isn't learning another canine dialect. The difference between canine high speech and bird low speech is more vast than the difference between any human language, imo.
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POSTED: Wed May 23, 2018 8:18 pm

Regarding magic: basically what Kiri is saying is that magic is a BELIEF, not a SKILL, in ‘Souls. It should really be compared to faith/religion rather than an ability one is skilled at.

For example, you probably wouldn’t list “Christianity” or “Islam” as a skill. If I have a character who knows the Quran front to back, I would put that in a “beliefs” section. They might have prayers or rites memorized, but you wouldn’t really put that down in a skill section, unless it was a related skill like “good orator/public speaker” for preaching. Does that make sense?

Because magic does not exist in the ‘Soulsverse, one cannot be good or bad at it. :) ICly, a character might be better at following instructions or memorizing rituals and be considered a “good” spellcaster or witch, but OOCly, it makes no difference.
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POSTED: Wed May 23, 2018 11:21 pm

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:You don't learn to read by being read to... :P Knowing about reading isn't the same as reading. Changes look fine though.

...Well my mum told me wrong lol

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:Having weaknesses don't necessarily balance out having skill. Consider that even if someone is bad at playing piano, they still invested time and energy to learn to play piano -- they used "skill points" on it, regardless of never becoming an expert.

Even if Alvira is "worst" at unarmed combat, if she trained in it, she devoted time to it, and that's time she didn't spend honing combat skills in other areas. Using our SP analogy, even a character investing 3-4 SP into something might not be great at it. Sometimes SP/time investments don't bear the fruit you want, and that's realistic.

Ah, I see! I'll be sure to keep that in mind!

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:I agree that many aspects of feral combat would be instinctual, but those are also things that I don't feel are worth including in a list of skills either. Every canine can fight. It's only worth mentioning if they're particularly good or particularly bad at it. I think I mentioned previously that it's good to consider that not every single little thing is worth mentioning, since mentioning it implies that it's significant, which implies probably a higher skill level than intended.

I normally list most skills since I have the memory of a goldfish at times and probably would have forgotten some character's skills if I didn't have the skills section to reference. I will keep that in mind when figuring out Alvira's feral fighting skills.

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:Re: multiilngual learning. The learning curve would be smaller for characters raised in and around the language, so perhaps consider it as an SP discount on the skill, but it'd still take some time and specific, intended learning to pick it up, especially considering this isn't learning another canine dialect. The difference between canine high speech and bird low speech is more vast than the difference between any human language, imo.

I see! I'll keep that in mind concerning her low-speech knowledge.

Vicira Tears wrote:Regarding magic: basically what Kiri is saying is that magic is a BELIEF, not a SKILL, in ‘Souls. It should really be compared to faith/religion rather than an ability one is skilled at.

For example, you probably wouldn’t list “Christianity” or “Islam” as a skill. If I have a character who knows the Quran front to back, I would put that in a “beliefs” section. They might have prayers or rites memorized, but you wouldn’t really put that down in a skill section, unless it was a related skill like “good orator/public speaker” for preaching. Does that make sense?

Because magic does not exist in the ‘Soulsverse, one cannot be good or bad at it. :) ICly, a character might be better at following instructions or memorizing rituals and be considered a “good” spellcaster or witch, but OOCly, it makes no difference.

Ah, I see! I was also trying not to offend or disregard anyone's beliefs concerning it when I was answering the questions. I might make it it's own section in the Traits section since it could use some balancing out. I'll keep that in mind for the future~

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POSTED: Thu May 24, 2018 2:30 am

I normally list most skills since I have the memory of a goldfish at times and probably would have forgotten some character's skills if I didn't have the skills section to reference. I will keep that in mind when figuring out Alvira's feral fighting skills.


If a character has so many skills you can't even remember them all, they probably have too many skills. ;)

I don't think you'd forget that a canine can bite things and perform instinctual self-defense just because you didn't specifically list it. I'd consider this akin to noting that a canine can walk -- it's a given and not worth mentioning unless they are bad at it (which is very notable) or there's some other unique aspect to it.
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POSTED: Thu May 24, 2018 11:46 am

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:
I normally list most skills since I have the memory of a goldfish at times and probably would have forgotten some character's skills if I didn't have the skills section to reference. I will keep that in mind when figuring out Alvira's feral fighting skills.


If a character has so many skills you can't even remember them all, they probably have too many skills. ;)

This. And even if the amount isn't necessarily unrealistic, if you can't remember a skill, they probably aren't important to that character -- which is another angle to come at character/skill creation. This is more general character advice coming up, rather than about realism, but I think it is important for you to hear it. :)

Try to think about why you want this particular character to have a certain skill. Try to come up with a reason beyond "it's cool and I want a character to have it." The same goes for quirks and NPCs.

Does an NPC add something to a character? Will you remember and explore that relationship, or is it just a cool, exotic accessory? Is a quirk, disability, or belief suitable for your character and the direction you want to develop them in, or is it just “something different” to do?

For example with skills: I’ll never forget that Vicira is good with horses, or that Skoll is a good fighter. These are their most mastered skills, but also very important parts of their characters. For Vici, it is a source of great pride as well as a connection with her mother. Skoll picks fights all the time, and he is powerfully motivated to protect his pack and family. These main skills are interconnected with their character: not something you can simply “forget” about.

For Alvira, ask yourself about what her skills say about her character. What is most important to her? How does she feel about her skills? If she had to describe herself, how would she? “I am a witch who knows how to read raven wings” – or, “I fight to protect my coven,” or even “I fight because I find joy in improving my body and mind”? There are a lot of motivations and reasons. These are stronger than: “Well, I know how to use a spear, and I know some herbs, and I can sew things sometimes.”

From a skills-listing standpoint: Kiri has that covered.

From a character standpoint: read advice. Ask yourself those questions. Try building from the ground up rather than listing skills. Pick an identity for your character and figure out what makes sense for her. Be critical of your ideas and don’t go with the first whim.
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POSTED: Thu May 24, 2018 6:44 pm

To add, "skill sections" are a relatively new thing in character profiles. Many players went for years without specifically listing any skills at all, but it was clear enough from their history and personality what types of things they were good at. If you had to write a character profile without an explicit grocery list of skills, how would you approach that? :O

It isn't inherently bad to have a skills list, but a character shouldn't be reduced to a skills list either.
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POSTED: Mon May 28, 2018 12:57 am

(Sorry for the belated reply)

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:If a character has so many skills you can't even remember them all, they probably have too many skills. ;)

Vicira Tears wrote:For example with skills: I’ll never forget that Vicira is good with horses, or that Skoll is a good fighter. These are their most mastered skills, but also very important parts of their characters. For Vici, it is a source of great pride as well as a connection with her mother. Skoll picks fights all the time, and he is powerfully motivated to protect his pack and family. These main skills are interconnected with their character: not something you can simply “forget” about.

Yeah, it's just that I don't trust my memory to remember things which is often why I note everything down. Most of the time I remember the most obvious things or characters such as Avinalora's healing skill, Iorek's feral combat skills, and Dawn's archery. But sometimes I might forget about Avinalora's tracking skill or Iorek's swimming skill, which are fairly basic but sometimes I forget. I also try to note down weaknesses and ect as well to make sure I get things right. But yeah, having a skills list has always been a personal preference since I find it easier to refer to and to make sure I don't say "Character did not know how to do X" or "Character had never done X" before in a post and not notice until the thread is archived.

Vicira Tears wrote:This. And even if the amount isn't necessarily unrealistic, if you can't remember a skill, they probably aren't important to that character -- which is another angle to come at character/skill creation. This is more general character advice coming up, rather than about realism, but I think it is important for you to hear it. :)

Vicira Tears wrote:Try to think about why you want this particular character to have a certain skill. Try to come up with a reason beyond "it's cool and I want a character to have it." The same goes for quirks and NPCs.

Does an NPC add something to a character? Will you remember and explore that relationship, or is it just a cool, exotic accessory? Is a quirk, disability, or belief suitable for your character and the direction you want to develop them in, or is it just “something different” to do?

Kyrios Lykoi wrote:It isn't inherently bad to have a skills list, but a character shouldn't be reduced to a skills list either.

I think I really did need this and will keep this in mind for the future as well as now. I've always had a slight NPC problem and skills problem that I'm trying to work on and this will help me a lot.

Vicira Tears wrote:For Alvira, ask yourself about what her skills say about her character. What is most important to her? How does she feel about her skills? If she had to describe herself, how would she? “I am a witch who knows how to read raven wings” – or, “I fight to protect my coven,” or even “I fight because I find joy in improving my body and mind”? There are a lot of motivations and reasons. These are stronger than: “Well, I know how to use a spear, and I know some herbs, and I can sew things sometimes.”

Vicira Tears wrote:From a character standpoint: read advice. Ask yourself those questions. Try building from the ground up rather than listing skills. Pick an identity for your character and figure out what makes sense for her. Be critical of your ideas and don’t go with the first whim.


She would most likely consider herself a "warrior witch" though she finds her "Running, stealth, climbing, evasion, agility" skill (I need to condense that) is important to her since she feels that she feels that she is the best at it and to her, it's a useful and what her personality does cater to with her quick thinking, wit, cunning, and guile. But after that, her combat and witchcraft abilities equally important after that since she took to the nanigata and her reaction here. Her feral combat skill would also be an important skill to her since it was something her mother taught her and she felt that she was best suited towards with her Secui form. And spending her youth in Anathema and CoR being exposed to witchcraft put her on that path. Her low-speech skills would also be important to her ornithomancy path as well. Her healing and sewing skills were taught to her by her family and she finds them both useful to her while hunting and reading were basic skills she had to learn.

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