Theoretical vs Practical Skills

Something I’ve been considering for a while is the difference between theoretical skills (skills that give you knowledge and the theory of how to do things) and practical skills (skills that give you the ability to do something).

Mathematics and physics are theoretical skills – they give you knowledge of the theories behind how things work, but not information on how to put it into practise. Engineering is a practical skill – it lets you translate a knowledge of physics into a real application.

A lot of games – particularly those with a science-fiction or modern-day theme – have skills that give you knowledge about something rather than something you can do with that knowledge. In many cases, I suspect this is because this is how tabletop games handle it – after all, if you don’t have Forbidden Lore: Daemons, then what right do you have to know anything about daemons?

This works fine in a small scale game like tabletop or even parlour LRP games where scenes are far more focused and have direct attention from a storyteller or GM.

In a larger scale game, you can’t rely on refs being there to bail you out or tell you what you know – it’s one of those situations where you need to sink or swim by your own merit, not what the people running the game can tell you.

With this in mind, No Heaven is following the below principle for all skills:

Is there a practical use for this skill which will come up at games? If no, get rid of it.

What this means is that there won’t be any skills in No Heaven which only lets you access in-game knowledge. The knowledge will be available to you – either from OOC resources, or from in-game resources – and it will be up to you to put the pieces together and find your answers.

There will be skills that let you access new in-game knowledge, but that’ll be one facet of their function. For example, using Scientific Analysis[1]example only, not actually a skill to study a strange crystal would provide you with information as a result of your research. It wouldn’t let you use the refs as an encyclopedia, however.

However, technology is a facet of the game, and using your technology to check facts and figures (whether that’s from your own notes or our knowledge banks) is something we expect and encourage. While the refs may not be available to answer your queries, there are ways to get that information whilst in the field.

Notes   [ + ]

1.example only, not actually a skill