Science skill in 4e

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My group is about to start playing in a Steampunk setting, and I've been asked to make up the rules for the skill governing the use of Science!

Here are some ideas I had that I thought I would share. If you can think of any suggessions, I would welcome them.

First off, the skill of Science! would be governed by the int ability score. Seems self explanitory, and makes it easy for Artificers to use. At easy DC, you can operate simply machinery, know basic chemical safety rules, and do the most priliminary of hacking. At moderate, one can opperate heavy and complex machinery (like a tank or steamtrain) guide more complex chemical reactions, and do basic repairs with the proper tools. At hard, you can work nearly any machine you find, do repairs without proper tools (in a cave, with a box of scraps!) ect. This also opens up the option to make simple, nonmagical designs of weapons. (Like, nunchucks, or this could allow you to make nonmagical, +1 weapons?)

Secondly, so that every class can have some way to be usefull in the setting, I came up with the ideas of Masters Degrees. (maybe call them something else?) You spend a second point of training in the Science! skill, and choose one of the following:

Cha: Masters of Chemistry: Allows one to purchase dangerous chemicals. Grants the Alchemy feat for free. Know properties, uses and lore about all manner of reactive substances.
Charisma because we got chemistry baby, yeah.
Wis: Masters of Brainbox Engineering: Allows one to hack, program, design, and repair Brainboxes (anything that acts like a computer).
Wisdom because you need both intelligence and wisdom to make a thinking machine.
Dex: Masters of Gunsmithing: Allows the creation, maitanance, and design of guns when given access to the proper tools.
Dexterity because you are handling small parts. Also, the sneaky classes love having new ways to murder people.
Str: Masters of Geargollumcy: Allows the build, maintain, and design of Geargollums. Grants the feat Familiar:Geargollum for free.* This also allows for the hacking of preexisting Geargollums. Does not work on freewilled machanical beings (looking at you, warforged)
*This feat is as Arcane Familiar, but with specially tailored, DM approved little robot friends.
Strength because...you lift heavy parts? It was the only ability score left? Yeah, it fits the least well.

Thank you for your time! I hope this is of use to you!

I'm not sure I can see a time where Nature or Dungeoneering can't handle whatever you wanted to do with Science...

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

Well, for starters, our group decided we wanted a seperate science skill so we wouldn't have to shoehorn in other skills for ineracting with tech like things. Addressing specifically nature and dungeoneering: Nature deals with things like flora and fauna, and being able to survive in natural environments. It is not generally aplicable in urban situations. I think you were wondering, why not bundle chemistry under nature? It does seem as though that might work, if you didn't want a seperate skill for it, but it does'nt hold up to more scrutiny. The ranger, who knows his plants and animals, can also make bombs really well, and knows how to chemically balance equasions? As for dungoeneering, that is a skill for investigating manmade things, I will grant you, but it isn't useful for manipulating the environment, nessessarily. Niether of these would be useful for hacking, for example.


So, I would say that in a pince those skills might do, if you are doing a heavily steampunk or other science type campaign, it can be simpler to just use a seperate science skill.
While the skills are broad enough to encompass everything, it doesn't make sense that that training in a skill would grant all the above benefits. 

Alternate Ideas would be something along the line of instead of creating a new skill you could possibly just double train in a skill that makes sense to unlock the science benefits of that skill. So a normal ranger wont know chemistry they could spend another skill training to learn it.

Also depending on how often the computers show up it might be worth it to include larger computer lick machines into brainbox, otherwise just throw it into the golem one. 
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58033128 wrote:
I still get bewildered by the idea of Good races and Bad races. I mean, D&D presents a world where there are literally dozens of sentient humanoid races. And then there's a line drawn down the middle, and some races, such as elves, dragonborn and humans, to name but a few, are put on one side and called Good Guys. And with that they are People. They have Rights. And on the other side go a bunch of other races, goblins, orcs, kobolds, and so on. These are called Bad Guys, and as such, they are not People. It is considered ok by many players to track them down and slaughter them. It shatters my suspension of disbelief to see someone who calls their character a hero, a noble sort of person who tries their damnedest to right wrongs and fight evil, making sure that those goblin women and children don't get away, because, you know, they're goblins. They're not just stupid beasts. They have societies, culture and language. They have goals, and motivations. I can believe that someone would kill a drow or an orc at first sight, because they probably were up to something. But don't try to tell me that that was a Good act and that you did it because you are a Good Person. When I'm considering what to do with a group of "bad" humanoids, and I come up with an idea, I mentally replace whatever the "bad guy" of the week is with humans. If it isn't ok to do it to a human, I won't do it to any sentient race.
My Views on the Alignment System:
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Killing something because it might be evil = evil Killing something because it might do something evil = evil Killing something because it is planning to do something evil = neutral Killing something because has done something evil = neutral Killing something because it is doing evil = good
I would caution you against adding a whole different skill. Int based characters already get the lions share.

As for nature, yes someone who understands plantsnand chemicals should have the ability to mix them and have the rudimentary knowledge of how to put them into a container to explode.

Take the chasis that already exists and make it fit, as opposed to trying to make new additions and you avoid the risk of imbalanci the game inadvertantly.

If i have more time later, I will throw down some more thoughts. 
I did address a little bit that this isn't just for the int guys, but though the Masters bit, you can make science work for any class. It is a bit of a large commitment to go into, but I thought that would help to balance out the advantages you could gain by doing it (two of them granting free feats, for instance.)

It does seem to be the general opinion that a seperate skill isn't needed, so far. Not sure I am convinced yet. I would like to see where it goes and how it can be made to work as something new and interesting.
Im sure it has the ability to make it unbalanced, but thats usually not a problem for most of the games I have been in since most try not to abuse house rules. That and it already does have a drawback since most classes get fairly few skills to train in already.
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58033128 wrote:
I still get bewildered by the idea of Good races and Bad races. I mean, D&D presents a world where there are literally dozens of sentient humanoid races. And then there's a line drawn down the middle, and some races, such as elves, dragonborn and humans, to name but a few, are put on one side and called Good Guys. And with that they are People. They have Rights. And on the other side go a bunch of other races, goblins, orcs, kobolds, and so on. These are called Bad Guys, and as such, they are not People. It is considered ok by many players to track them down and slaughter them. It shatters my suspension of disbelief to see someone who calls their character a hero, a noble sort of person who tries their damnedest to right wrongs and fight evil, making sure that those goblin women and children don't get away, because, you know, they're goblins. They're not just stupid beasts. They have societies, culture and language. They have goals, and motivations. I can believe that someone would kill a drow or an orc at first sight, because they probably were up to something. But don't try to tell me that that was a Good act and that you did it because you are a Good Person. When I'm considering what to do with a group of "bad" humanoids, and I come up with an idea, I mentally replace whatever the "bad guy" of the week is with humans. If it isn't ok to do it to a human, I won't do it to any sentient race.
My Views on the Alignment System:
Show
Killing something because it might be evil = evil Killing something because it might do something evil = evil Killing something because it is planning to do something evil = neutral Killing something because has done something evil = neutral Killing something because it is doing evil = good
for me science is already covered by diferent skills:

Thievery = Engineering and Mechanical Physics, etc...
Nature = Biology...duh
Heal = Medical Science
Dungeonnering = Geology
Arcane = Chemestry 
Well, for starters, our group decided we wanted a seperate science skill so we wouldn't have to shoehorn in other skills for ineracting with tech like things.


Which I find a bit ironic since, to me, you are shoehorning a large number of vaguely related disciplines under an even more vague title.  Just becuase you know chemistry does not mean you know anything about working with machines, for example.

Further, Science is more than machines, chemistry, and computers.  The term covers all manner to systematic study.  Where's the meterology?  Astrogeology?  Molecular biology?  Anthropology?  Cognitive Science?  Etc.  A better name would for this skill would be something more specific and defining to what it is suppose represents, like "Applied Steamtech", or some such.

But as others have said and demonstrated, all of the aspects you've presented are already covered by existing mechanics.  So for "Applied Steamtech" to really hold its own as a viable mechanic, you would have to give it a strong, flavorful identity and justify why it deserves to be its own skill.

Does not work on freewilled machanical beings (looking at you, warforged)



Another minor nitpick, but warforged are 0% mechanical.  So that's kinda a moot point.

Secondly, so that every class can have some way to be usefull in the setting, I came up with the ideas of Masters Degrees. (maybe call them something else?) You spend a second point of training in the Science! skill, and choose one of the following:

Cha: Masters of Chemistry: Allows one to purchase dangerous chemicals. Grants the Alchemy feat for free. Know properties, uses and lore about all manner of reactive substances.
Charisma because we got chemistry baby, yeah.
Wis: Masters of Brainbox Engineering: Allows one to hack, program, design, and repair Brainboxes (anything that acts like a computer).
Wisdom because you need both intelligence and wisdom to make a thinking machine.
Dex: Masters of Gunsmithing: Allows the creation, maitanance, and design of guns when given access to the proper tools.
Dexterity because you are handling small parts. Also, the sneaky classes love having new ways to murder people.
Str: Masters of Geargollumcy: Allows the build, maintain, and design of Geargollums. Grants the feat Familiar:Geargollum for free.* This also allows for the hacking of preexisting Geargollums. Does not work on freewilled machanical beings (looking at you, warforged)
*This feat is as Arcane Familiar, but with specially tailored, DM approved little robot friends.
Strength because...you lift heavy parts? It was the only ability score left? Yeah, it fits the least well.



All of these would fit better under different mechanics, such as feats, themes, and alternative class features, or expanded use of existing skills, rather than being tied to skill point usage.

And your justifications for the Cha and Str-based Degrees are particularly force.  Cha makes you better at chemistry because of the power of puns, and Str allows you to hack robots because you can lift weights...yeah.
Thinking about creating a race for 4e? Make things a lil' easier on yourself by reading my Race Mechanic Creation Guide first.
Doesn't Gamma World have a Science skill? And it uses the 4E game engine.
Amethyst and Ultramodern4 (3pp products from Dias Ex Machina) add a couple skills to 4e, including Science (others being Engineering, Computer Use, Demolition, and Vehicle Handling IIRC), so there's no reason it couldn't work.
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Doesn't Gamma World have a Science skill? And it uses the 4E game engine.


Gamma World (7E) has the following skills:


  • Acrobatics

  • Athletics

  • Conspiracy

  • Insight

  • Interaction

  • Mechanics

  • Nature

  • Perception

  • Science

  • Stealth


I really just find the whole point of the original post... well, a bit too weird for my taste.
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Amethyst and Ultramodern4 (3pp products from Dias Ex Machina) add a couple skills to 4e, including Science (others being Engineering, Computer Use, Demolition, and Vehicle Handling IIRC), so there's no reason it couldn't work.



Yeah, Sciences is a new generic skill title in line with 4th Edition philosophy.  Of course, one could make the argument that certain fields couldn't fall into it...like economics or pyschology (heh).  Maybe have a Sciences (Soft), and Sciences (Real), and maybe even Sciences (Psuedo), where your skills are on finding stupid ideas with no evidence like contrails are mind control gas or there are alien pyramids on the moon.

Correction by the way, it's Vehicle Operation in Ultramodern and Amethyst.  
 
I wrote a whole series of blog articles called Dungeontech on this very subject.  Here's the article I wrote about Skills.
Amethyst and Ultramodern4 (3pp products from Dias Ex Machina) add a couple skills to 4e, including Science (others being Engineering, Computer Use, Demolition, and Vehicle Handling IIRC), so there's no reason it couldn't work.



Yeah, Sciences is a new generic skill title in line with 4th Edition philosophy.  Of course, one could make the argument that certain fields couldn't fall into it...like economics or pyschology (heh).  Maybe have a Sciences (Soft), and Sciences (Real), and maybe even Sciences (Psuedo), where your skills are on finding stupid ideas with no evidence like contrails are mind control gas or there are alien pyramids on the moon.

Correction by the way, it's Vehicle Operation in Ultramodern and Amethyst.  
 


My modern campaign has been on hold for a little while but I was close.
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