I mentioned recently that I was switching the basic FUBAR system to be something more gramatically correct. This has been an issue from a lot of perspectives, it's actually something that has been long entrenched in roleplaying games...probably because at their root they were concieved by mathematicians, statisticians and people interested in mechanical gameplay rather than grammatically correct storytelling. The recent generations of story based games have inhereted a lot of the baggage from the past, and generally haven't known, or haven't cared that this is an issue.
Someone on G+ pointed out recently that the "Divergent" movie (and books it's based on) divide people into factions with names that might be nouns or verbs, with no consistency in the naming scheme. That got me thinking about the skill listing that I generally apply to most of my game designs. The core list has about 40 skills in it, many derived from White Wolf's WoD, some drawn from D&D, others just used to fill in gaps. I looked at the list and noticed that some of the skills were written in the form of nouns, some verbs, adjectives, again, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason, it was just cool words that described funky things to do.
Athletics, intimidate, strength, research, beauty, occult, investigation, gymnastics, crafts, repair, etc.
Thus began the idea to begin converting all of these terms to verbs.
Repair is fine... I can repair something.
Investigation can be easily converted across... I can investigate something.
What about occult?... How do I occult something? How do I athletics something?
What are the specific actions involved in these fields?
Once I start down the path of turning these skills into specific verbs I can see the problems that might have been inherent in the system all along. I remember thinking that the various Discipline names in Vampire the Masquerade (and the power in Wraith) had this same problem with verbs and nouns mixed up to some degree.
But let's focus on moving things forward. When a character does something occult related, what are they actually doing? If they're researching, then there is an overlap, we've already got a research verb. If they're casting spells, that's something else entirely, and not all occult scholars are actually capable of casting magic, some just understand the mechanisms and might know how to thwart them without actually casting spells of their own. Similarly, a wide ranging skill field such as Athletics might be divided into specific verbs of run, jump, throw, and any number of other athletic feats.
I'm also having trouble with a few of the other terms I regularly use as skills...once I split them down into verb forms I see that some skills are very wide in their interpretation and versatility while others are very narrow.
I've also been contemplating the idea of a list of verbs that anyone can do, and then some specific verbs that open up with specific characters (eg. You need wings (or psychic powers) before you can fly).
Perhaps dividing the skills into specific verb forms is a bad way to achieve my intentions.
Still more thinking to do on this one.
5 hours ago