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In running adventures that take characters on far ranging jaunts, I have sometimes run into the question of the relative difference between two skills that are at the same trait level. In two of my favorite settings - the pulp era (Terra Incognita) from WWI to WW2 inclusive and a not-too-far future Space setting I have called "The Alliance" - with various adventures ranging over the whole world or worlds respectively, it comes into question. If John Doe is a Great Marksman and 'X' is a Great Marksmen, but John grew up on Earth in a normal setting and 'X' grew up on the Militaristic World where everyone mandatorily started learning marksmanship as soon as they could stand, are they in fact equally skilled?

There really are two approaches to take. The first, and obvious one, is that skill trait levels are absolute and that regardless of one's background a Great Marksmen is a Great Marksman and, luck aside, one would expect a competition between the two to be very very close.

The second, is that all skills (and potentially many gifts and faults as well) are modified by two scales. A geographic area scale and, if applicable, a temporal scale. These scales are defined by the characters background. A geographic scale may look something like:
Area Scale
Village -3
Town -2
City -1
State/Province 0
Country +1
Continent +2
Global +3
Of course, the base line can be adjusted to suit, for example, Global may be 0 for an interplanetary campaign. With this, a Markman who is considered Great in their own Province competing against a Marksman considered Great in National competitions is at a -1 due to the geographic scope scale. Of course, when the Provincial Marksmen wins the National, the GM can reward them by just adjusting the scale of the scope of their skill to the National level. This becomes an added way to both allow character skills to improve and yet still present challenging opponents who don't have to have Super level traits.

A temporal scale (or technology level scale) works the same way. If Jane Doe was an vehicle engineer on the backwater planet of "Earth" and only had a Superb master of internal combustion engine based vehicles, when arriving on the planet "Eco-9" her ability to fix the fully electric or hydrogen powered vehicles would be impaired (-1), although some aspects would still be very familiar. When arriving on the planet "Miraculous" where thought bubble transports are the norm, Jane may be several (or many) levels away (say -5), but an exceptional dice roll may allow her to fix, repair, or modify the simplest of problems of the bubble transports - after all the bubble transport probably still has something to steer with, some way to accelerate, and some way to brake and something that powers them. Conversely, for someone on the planet "Miraculous" to strip down and rebuild an antique internal combustion vehicle just unearthed at an archaeological dig, may be hard to do, but for Jane, it would be a piece of cake. Even Superb vehicle engineers of Miraculous have long lost the hands-on expertise for internal combustion vehicles (they would be at the -5), but for Jane, it is her native technology level.

Such scales can also readily be applied to Gifts (and Faults) such as Reputation, Authority, Wealth, and many others.

In a pulp setting in a global campaign set in WW1 or WW2 using a geographic scale can remind characters of how far afield the adventure has taken them, provide new challenges, and help bring the sweeping scope of involvement in a global conflict to the game.


+1 # slockard 2010-12-10 02:43
I like how you could use trait levels that are word based (hidden numbers or not) to describe the differences in level. I think a setting like Gatecrasher or Palladium's Rifts, where things like TL come into play could make good use of this without confusing newer players.

So thanks Paul, for a nice Fudge morsel to digest.
# Paul Dupuis 2010-12-10 23:27
Thanks for the comment. I stand by my claim that Scale (which I don't know if it originated in Fudge) is one of the best game mechanics I have ever seen in any game system. Mr. O'Sullivan is brilliant (or perhaps knows brilliant people :-* )
# JonathanS223 2010-12-27 17:35
If it wasn't for the scale system in fudge I'd be a in a lot of trouble when it came to designing the fantasy universe around my novel series I'm writing. :D

I'm gonna take this in to consideration!

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