Common Skills and Freebies

Sometimes you've got to give some things away

One of the biggest pet peeves I have with game systems is that the more “all encompassing” they become, the more they seem to want you to not be able to create a reasonable individual with their given creation mechanics. Think about it. Take any modern game setting and do the following activity. Create a list of skills you as an individual can do, and then try to recreate that list in a starting character. I’m guessing either you couldn’t do it, or you’re underestimating your own skill list.

Free Stuff

Free Stuff – What’s not to love?

This was quite apparent in a number of games my college gaming crowd played. Most notably was Top Secret. And that’s what apparently spurred this response to the original rule set:

The one thing I might add is a baseline skill set that is “common” to the people of the genre / heritage of the person. Probably just low-levels but certainly a normal situation. We hit that somewhat back in the TS days with stuff like driving, reading/writing, etc. Very dependent on the setting but many skill systems make you purchase even what would be common capabilities. That never made a lot of sense to me.


My immediate response?

That’s a good point. I’ll amend the “Freebie” skill set section to include such info.


I changed the Freebies section to include this:

Every character is given his or her IKE score in their native language for speaking/comprehending purposes.
Every character is given a baseline skill set that is “common” to the people of the genre/era/heritage of the person. This Common Skill score begins at IKE / 2.

Examples for “modern era settings” would be driving, reading/writing, etc.
*Optional: A player can break the Common Skill into various sub skill entities for the sole purpose of lowering one skill to raise another. No skill can ever drop below 1 nor can it be raised above the maximum initial skill level via this procedure.*

Example: A modern era character’s Common Skill score is 3 so you have Drive 3, Read/Write – English 3.
But the character concept is a redneck who races cars but didn’t bother much with school. This optional rule allows adjusting Drive to 4 by lowering Read/Write – English to 2 so long as the character’s maximum initial physical score is 4 or more.

And it began to set the stage of the system in mind. Rules-light, easy to move quickly through, flexible, and allowing for a more interpretive style of play. All in all, it was shaping up to have the feel of an old school D&D game where nobody knew all the rules and you just kind of “winged it” in a lot of sections.

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