Thursday, August 26, 2010

Metaskills and Edges

In StarCluster 2E, and carryed forward in no other game I ever designed, I introduced a concept called metaskills. Metaskills were an attempt to create a class of skills which could modify other skills when used in conjunction. For example Design (Metaskill) + Engineering (Skill) would be designing ship's drives and power, While Design + Electronics would design gadgets, and Design + Construction would design houses and other structures. Nifty idea, no? No. it was complicated to use - they boosted the Skill Check in an awkward way - and most people could never figure out how or when to use them. I bulled it through the playtesters' confusion, convinced it would work. I learned my lesson, and never used them again.

With In Harm's Way: Wild Blue, I came up with another concept - Edges. Edges are bonuses which would apply to any skill test when the matching condition was in effect. For example, the Edge Split Second - favored by fighter pilots - would be in effect whenever absolutely precise timing was critical. This worked nicely, and I've incorporated Edges into many games since, including In Harm's Way: StarCluster and StarCluster 3.

A couple of days ago, I realized what should be apparent by my juxtaposition of these two concepts - Edges are Metaskills.

Conceptually, they are both ways to treat a broad competence combined with narrower skills. If you are good at designing things, you will be better at designing electronic gadgets than someone with equal Electronics skills and no design training. Metaskills were just awkward to use, and badly named. Edges are simpler to comprehend - it's plain, standard English to say someone has an edge in a particular circumstance, whereas metaskill is a made up word - and simpler to execute - Edges are a straight Small Bonus, whereas Metaskill application needed a formula.

So now I am going to revisit SC 3's Skills and Edges with this in mind. I have a feeling there will be some changes!



  1. Edge: Designer?

    Gives a bonus to programming, architecture, art and buying chairs!

  2. Hehe! I like the buying chairs bit! :D

    I turned a lot of the Metaskills in SC 2E inot regular skills, but was never happy with them. They make far more sense as Edges: Repair, Build, Design, Organize, Grow, and Sell make much more sense as the Edges Fixer, Builder, Designer, Organized, Green Thumb, and Seller.