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ludomastro
I search for a similar topic but lamentably, specialization just is too general to turn up what I was looking for. Even modified terms don't seem to help much.

I have been puzzling over specializations for a while now. Perhaps it is a case of nostalgia, perhaps not, but I really liked that in previous editions (I am specifically thinking of 2nd) the specialization reduced the base skill (but was free).

Pistols 4 with a specialization in Revolvers became
Pistols 3 (Revolvers 5)

[ Spoiler ]


In effect however, the skills were separated at that point. You could increase your Pistols to 4 and Revolvers would stay at 5. A kind GM might allow you to re-absorb the specialization as you increase Pistols from 4 to 5 but no guarantees.

Now to the question: Is this a better way to handle specializations or not? Why or why not? Please don't simply answer along the lines of "It's your table: do what you want." OR "House rules are a dime-a-dozen."

As for me, it seems to me that the current specialization rule is designed to give you a +2 with no penalty. I'm not sold.
Muspellsheimr
The 'penalty' is the cost required to take a specialization.

The 'new' way is far more streamlined, elegant, & effective than the 'old', based on how you have it written here.
Tanegar
IMO, it's not much of a penalty. 2BP to increase your dice pool by 2 under a given set of circumstances, versus 4BP to increase your dice pool by 1 under all circumstances. You'd be off your nut to not specialize in every skill you could.
Matsci
QUOTE (Tanegar @ May 24 2009, 08:35 PM) *
IMO, it's not much of a penalty. 2BP to increase your dice pool by 2 under a given set of circumstances, versus 4BP to increase your dice pool by 1 under all circumstances. You'd be off your nut to not specialize in every skill you could.


Except you can't specialize in skill groups, and the discount you get from those are pretty good too.
Heath Robinson
QUOTE (Tanegar @ May 25 2009, 05:35 AM) *
IMO, it's not much of a penalty. 2BP to increase your dice pool by 2 under a given set of circumstances, versus 4BP to increase your dice pool by 1 under all circumstances. You'd be off your nut to not specialize in every skill you could.

Except you can specialise in cases that you will always see come up. Like weapon skills.

Pilot Ground Vehicle 1 (Wheeled +2) is my favourite example, but also Dodge 2 (Ranged +2). Pistols 1 (Semi-Automatics +2) and Automatics 1 (SMGs +2) are also good. You can be paying 2 BP/die from the skill using R1 + Spec for certain minimums. R2 + Spec gives you 2.5 BP/die.

Practically everyone should be able to shoot at least 1 kind of gun, drive, and avoid getting shot. It's the basic minimums for surviving in your job. Achieving these aims the most efficiently you can isn't to be sneered at.

When you do care about the Skill there are still applications that are more common, or more useful, than others. For example, Hardware 1 (Maglocks +2) is ridiculously useful for getting you through doors if you're already a midget supergenius like one of my current characters. You can get a lot of mileage out of Hacking 5 (Exploit +2) and Computer 5 (Analyse +2), where you're rolling at least 14 dice for these skills when in Hot Sim, putting you slightly ahead of the pack when all else is held equal. At the very least you're comparing favourably to plain System + Firewall.
Cthulhudreams
Is letting PCs have 2 extra dice in their schtick bad?

Hells no - it clearly defines the PCs more, meaning less toe treading (this guy does assault rifles, that guy does revolvers), and makes the PCs good at the think that they are supposed to do. The wheel guy needs to be awesome at being the wheel guy otherwise the human player behind the sheet is going to have a crap time.

Given that specalisations define characters schtick and make characters better at delivering on their concepts, yeah, they are awesome and should be keep as is (cheap and awesome). only downside is they are always better to buy with karma than BPs.
ElFenrir
You are forgetting to mention(unless it was erratta'd over the years), that in SR3, you can specialize in more than one thing. I even remember an example of it in the SR3 core rulebook, though I don't have it right in front of me atm to find the page(but I suppose I'll dig it up if someone really, really wants a citation.)

Basically, I remember the example of you being able to have Stealth(Sneaking) 5(7). If you paid(the amazingly low Karma cost, especially if you had a stat that was more than the skill, since remember, via SR3 the cost of skills was tied to your attributes, the higher the attribute the cheaper the skill), I think it was....4 Karma with a Quickness of 8(not hard to get with a sam at all), you could buy another specialization in a different area of stealth. I forget the example used, but they ended up with Stealth(Sneaking, Something) 5(7.7) (Specializations could not be more than twice the base skill, though, as I recall, so eventually you did have to bring up the base skill. The exception to this was a 1(3), which was allowed.) So you could make a deal just paying a nice, low price for a bunch of specializations. There was a limit-you could only specialize in as many areas as you had base skill rating.

SR3 gave a different skill disadvantage, as I could swear I remember doing something that could cause the base skill to degrade somewhat. I don't think it's this(as then it would sort of reverse the rule of having X max specializations=your base skill), but it might have been something.

You could also get a discount for keeping increasing your specializaition over your base skill, but again, you had up to twice the base skill, so eventually you had to pay. But here, you don't even have that option-you must increase the base skill for more dice. And again, skill groups cannot be specialized in unless it's broken.

In SR4, you get 1 specialization, and only one, and this cannot be changed. Again, I suppose a very kind GM and a big houserule will allow you to switch them, but as by the book? Nope, once you pay your 2 BP and specialize that's it. So while they might have been cheaper, they are more restricting, so you better pick your specialization well.
Cthulhudreams

Yeah, I've always thought that not being able to change them is a dumb oversight. Make them 1 BP and add the house rule letting anyone change them. If the wheel guy wants to move from motorbikes to hovercraft, who cares - and I certainly wouldn't charge him for the privileged, but I'd make him wait until between 'runs'
ludomastro
QUOTE (SR4 @ 2nd printing, FanPro, page 264)
A character that wants to change her specialization in a particular skill may do so at the gamemaster's discretion. In this case, the character pays 2 Karma to learn the new specialization and immediately loses the old one.


So, by RAW, yes, you can change your specialization. Unless they did away with that section in newer printings.
Dikotana
They're really just slightly different.

In SR3 you can choose to reduce a base skill by 1 to have a specialization two higher than the base, so Pistols (Predators) 4(6) or the like. That's the system during chargen. When spending karma the base skill and specialization increase separately. Raising the specialization is cheaper but narrower and yes, it's capped at twice the base skill.

Personally I like the fact that SR4 keeps the two dice increase for specializing even if you get better at the base skill, but the interaction with skill groups is odd. A lot of m reaction comes from skill overhauls: all gun specializations in SR4 are base skills in SR3, but then the athletics group is a single SR3 skill.

Since I play mostly SR3, my own personal favorite houserule is that specializations are just a +2 dice increase to a subfield of a skill. You can choose to specialize during character creation at no cost, and it works like SR3's standard. Increasing Skill (Specialization) X(X+2) to X+1(X+3) costs exactly as much as increasing the base skill from X+1 to X+2. In other words, you have a "skill" of Y, but you are slightly better in one area and slightly worse in all others. It has seemed balance and keeps the calculations simpler. For SR4 I'm largely inclined to leave it alone, except my own inclination is to get rid of skill groups and just treat all groups as a single skill at single skill costs. I'll admit to having rather limited gun experience, but shouldn't anyone capable of firing SMGs be able to pull off firing a pistol with a little bit of error? Isn't that what specialization covers?

Oh, and no specializations in two parts of a base skill, SR3 or otherwise. That seems to be missing the point of having a specialty.
Glyph
The SR3 version of specialization would not work in SR4, due to the hard caps. With an absolute hard caps, the +1/-1 thing does not work. I like the SR4 version much better - it's easy to use, and you don't have a skill/specialization combo costing more if you get it one way than if you get it another way.
Mx
QUOTE (Dikotana @ May 26 2009, 07:30 AM) *
I'll admit to having rather limited gun experience, but shouldn't anyone capable of firing SMGs be able to pull off firing a pistol with a little bit of error? Isn't that what specialization covers?

Not, really unless you add a stock and maybe few other eextras to that pistol to make it like SMG.
Chibu
Yeah, I'm confused by the going back and forth on firearms skills too. In second edition there was a Firearms skill. Then in third the split it up into the Concentrations of Firearms, and then back in 4th.

Anyway, in second edition there are actually 2 levels of specializing in a skill. Concentrations which are like specializations in others, and specializations.

So, Firearms(Pistols) 4(6) is still the same, Pistols being the concentration.
But then you could also do: Firearms(Pistols[Manhunter]) 4(6[8]).
Now, writing it like that makes it seems different than it is (and harder to read).

Firearms: 4
- Pistols: 6
- - Manhunter: 8

Now, you basically have three different skills here. And this would cost the same amount as Firearms: 6. So, you can use your karma to raise any of those skills (NR=New Rating) for some of your karma. the General skill, Firearms, can be raised for NR*2, concentrations for NR*1.5 and specializations for NR*1.

But yes, if you were to raise you skill with Pistols to 9, you would still have a skill of 8 with the Manhunter. However, since the Manhunter is also a Pistol, you can use that skill when you roll it. So, if you raise a more general part of a skill, it basically makes the specialized part useless. Really though, I think that this makes alot of sense. If you're going down to the shooting range (or the barrens) and practicing everyday with all different kinds of pistols for a loing time, (that is, enought to raise your skill by 3) you're going to end up not any better with the Manhunter. You've gotten better with pistols in general though, so this makes up for it.

In SR4? I see absolutely NO reason why you should ever let a character switch specializations around for free on a whim. I can see if they spend a long time working to change it, or if they paid some karma...

And yes, firing different types of guns is similar enough that if you can use one, you can DEFAULT to that skill to use another. Skill Web anyone? Yeah, you have an increased TN, because you don't have a stock on that pistol to make it like an SMG, but you can shoot it and still hit.
paws2sky
QUOTE (Chibu @ May 27 2009, 08:09 AM) *
Yeah, I'm confused by the going back and forth on firearms skills too. In second edition there was a Firearms skill. Then in third the split it up into the Concentrations of Firearms, and then back in 4th.


In SR4 there is a Firearms Group (any non-exotic gun) and then there are the ore focused Automatics, Longarms, and Pistols skills. Also, Exotic Ranged Weapon is a separate skill which you buy for each of your oddball guns, like netguns, squirtguns, etc.

QUOTE
Anyway, in second edition there are actually 2 levels of specializing in a skill. Concentrations which are like specializations in others, and specializations.
So, Firearms(Pistols) 4(6) is still the same, Pistols being the concentration.
But then you could also do: Firearms(Pistols[Manhunter]) 4(6[8]).


I was a fan of this method.

This was also used in SR1, for those folks keeping score.

QUOTE
In SR4? I see absolutely NO reason why you should ever let a character switch specializations around for free on a whim. I can see if they spend a long time working to change it, or if they paid some karma...


Free? I'm pretty sure you still have to pay for it. 2 Karma to change your specialization is cheap if you do it once or twice, but if you keep switching, it can get pricey.

-paws
ornot
My biggest problem is the broadness of some of the specialisations available in SR4. Semi-autos is not adequately restrictive in my mind, since it's basically a specialisation in virtually every handgun. There are only about 4 revolvers in the BBB and Arse combined. Similarly, pilot ground craft (wheeled). Excepting the walker drones the only vehicle that restricts you from driving in the BBB is the Everglades hovercraft. How is that any kind of specialisation. My absolutely least favourite is unarmed combat (martial arts). What aspect of unarmed combat isn't covered by martial arts?

Personally I just require a player to choose a more specific specialisation, like a particular model of gun or type of vehicle (car, bike or van, not all wheeled). Usually this restriction is not overly limiting, since a runner will specialise in whatever handgun they particularly prefer to use, or the type of vehicle they own. They only ever lose their bonus dice if they lose their prefered type of weapon or vehicle, and can't find another one.
Chibu
I definitely agree about the broadness of specializing being silly. I've never taken one on unarmed Combat. In fact, I'm pretty sure no one in my group has. basically, it's bad form. getting extra dice with no restriction and no cost is just dumb. So, we ignore it I guess. It's never been stated that we aren't allowed to though. I think it would be fine to specialize in... Unarmed Combat->Grappling, or Tripping, or... well, anything like that. Unarmed Combat -> Martial Arts? Well, that's exactly the same thing, and you will always, no matter what, be getting your extra dice.
Mx
QUOTE (ornot @ May 27 2009, 04:46 PM) *
Semi-autos is not adequately restrictive in my mind, since it's basically a specialisation in virtually every handgun. There are only about 4 revolvers in the BBB and Arse combined.

I don't think that the specialisations overlap so that semi-automatics spec doesn't help in using hold-outs
QUOTE (ornot @ May 27 2009, 04:46 PM) *
Similarly, pilot ground craft (wheeled). Excepting the walker drones the only vehicle that restricts you from driving in the BBB is the Everglades hovercraft.

And all the bikes.

Zurai
QUOTE (Mäx @ May 27 2009, 09:41 AM) *
I don't think that the specialisations overlap so that semi-automatics spec doesn't help in using hold-outs


Specializations HAVE TO overlap. Look at the Pilot specializations for the clearest example: you get a bunch of different options, then Remote Operated. Remote Operated can apply to any of the other options and vice versa; they overlap at 100%. If specializations do not functionally overlap, then Remote Operated is a useless specialization (or the others are).
Mx
QUOTE (Zurai @ May 27 2009, 06:30 PM) *
Specializations HAVE TO overlap. Look at the Pilot specializations for the clearest example: you get a bunch of different options, then Remote Operated. Remote Operated can apply to any of the other options and vice versa; they overlap at 100%. If specializations do not functionally overlap, then Remote Operated is a useless specialization (or the others are).

Remote operation works when your piloting remotly, others only when you physically piloting the type you specialised in.
No overlaping.
Tanegar
QUOTE (Mäx @ May 27 2009, 10:57 AM) *
Remote operation works when your piloting remotly, others only when you physically piloting the type you specialised in.
No overlaping.

If you have Pilot Aircraft 3 (Rotary Wing 5), why wouldn't you get the 2 extra dice when remotely operating a helicopter? Of course they overlap. Remote Operation shouldn't even be an option for specialization, IMO.
Mx
QUOTE (Tanegar @ May 27 2009, 07:31 PM) *
If you have Pilot Aircraft 3 (Rotary Wing 5), why wouldn't you get the 2 extra dice when remotely operating a helicopter? Of course they overlap. Remote Operation shouldn't even be an option for specialization, IMO.

Becouse, remote operating something isn't the same as actually flying the think.
Zurai
QUOTE (Mäx @ May 27 2009, 12:43 PM) *
Becouse, remote operating something isn't the same as actually flying the think.


Yes, it is. You still have to know everything about how a rotary wing craft flies either way. The only difference is whether you're sitting in the pilot's seat or miles away in a hardened bunker.
Heath Robinson
QUOTE (Mäx @ May 27 2009, 03:41 PM) *
I don't think that the specialisations overlap so that semi-automatics spec doesn't help in using hold-outs

So you'd argue that you don't get your "Aura Reading" specialisation of Assensing on anything because you can seriously take "by aura type (Metahuman, Spirits, Foci, Wards, etc)". But, remember, this is a bidrectional relationship. Because "Aura Reading" and "Psychometry" exist, you can't even use your "by aura type" specialisation for anything. So you can't get any benefit from specialising Assensing.

It's not just Assensing. Climbing has "by surface type", Diving has "by condition type", Infiltration has "by detection method", Running has "Urban" and "Wilderness". I'm not even through the Physical Skills section yet. Intimidation has "Mental", "Physical", "Interrogation", "Torture". Computer and Hacking have both "by Program type" and "by Device type". Data Search has "by source" and "by data type".

All specialisations of these skills are absolutely useless under your ruling. This implies that your ruling is not what the devs intended, because they're smart enough to catch where they're writing things that are obviously useless.
Chibu
I think Max was talking about pistols... And saying that semi-auto guns that are holdouts, would use the hold-out specialization, not the semi-auto one. Almost all pistols are "semi-auto" so taking that specialization, and using it for revolvers and holdouts, which are also listed as possible specializations, is just silly. The point of a specialization is that you are better with a (small) subset of the skill than with the rest of it.

Other skills are set up fine. Aura Reading, while more useful as a specialization, is different from Psychometry. And you only get extra dice when aura reading (yes, regardless of type).

I believe that the point being made is that one should not allow Semi-automatics to include all revolvers and holdouts. And that if this were the case then other specializations, like Revolvers would be pointless to take as you could get your bonus on all revolvers and other things if you took semi-auto instead.

In short, it's probably the case that Revolver is not supposed to be a subset of semi-auto, as it would seem to be. And therefore Max (and others) think that it should not be used that way.

Basically, that all specializations should in fact be specializations, and not all-encompassing extra dice.
yorks6988
Our group plays the same way as Ornot. You have to specialize in a specific weapon. Otherwise its just too vague.

To go out of context try it with a subject like sports. If sports is the main, people do not specialize in baseball or football, they specialize at shortstop or linebacker.

Every semi-automatic weighs different, shoots different, and has different characteristics to shooting it, how does one specialize in 15 different guns?
Heath Robinson
QUOTE (Chibu @ May 27 2009, 07:41 PM) *
<snip/>

Damnit. I feel so stupid. I somehow skipped over that "the" entirely and failed to notice it. I guess I need more sleep.


Edit: Except, he's also arguing for Wheeled to not include bikes. Above statement revoked.
Mx
QUOTE (Chibu @ May 27 2009, 09:41 PM) *
I think Max was talking about pistols... And saying that semi-auto guns that are holdouts, would use the hold-out specialization, not the semi-auto one. Almost all pistols are "semi-auto" so taking that specialization, and using it for revolvers and holdouts, which are also listed as possible specializations, is just silly. The point of a specialization is that you are better with a (small) subset of the skill than with the rest of it.

YEs, thats exactly what i meant, also that pilot ground craft(wheeled) doesn't include bikes as that is an other specialization.
Tanegar
QUOTE (yorks6988 @ May 27 2009, 02:57 PM) *
To go out of context try it with a subject like sports. If sports is the main, people do not specialize in baseball or football, they specialize at shortstop or linebacker.

Actually, I think that analogy works better if each sport is its own skill (Play Baseball, Play Football, etc.) and players specialize in a position. "Sports" would be a skill group, like Firearms.
yorks6988
Correct. Sports would be the active skill group and baseball or football would be an active skill in the sports skill group. To say someone is specialized in football would mean they could play any position equally well. Our group has to take one thing covered by a skill (not a skill group) and specialize in that. i.e. quarterback or linebacker
BullZeye
I'm with Mäx on this one. Pistols are categorized to 3 groups and each of them have their own specialization. Semi-auto holdout doesn't gain anything from semi-auto spec neither does a SA revolver. It's not just the point & click interface of the gun that one learns better but how the weapon itself really works and how to use it efficiently. Another point is what happens to a semi-auto pistol if it's modified to fire full auto.

I like the simplicity of SR4's way to handle specs. In nWoD I think one can specialize as many times as one wants to any skill which kinda loses the whole point in specialization imo.
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