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Teaching and Study

By Cormac Doyle

Edited by Lowell R. Matthews for The Guild Companion

Copyright 2000

One glaring omission from the recently published Skill Companion (School of Hard Knocks) was its complete lack of information on how to adjudicate the effects of having a skilled teacher instruct someone on the finer points of swordsmanship, history, or self-control. Hopefully, this short article will rectify this omission.

Teaching (Influence)—A character with the skill of Teaching has a knack for explaining difficult concepts in an understandable way. This skill should be used whenever the character wishes to convey to the target a concept, idea, theory, or plan that could otherwise confuse him. In general, this skill gives a bonus to the amount of material successfully taught to the target.

This skill must be used any time a character wishes to impart specific knowledge to another. This skill also allows the target to learn the material faster than normal. If the GM wants to increase the level of detail, he can split the skill of Teaching into four related skills: Teaching, Coaching, Demonstration, and Instruction. In such a scheme, Teaching applies to academic skills (Communications, Lore, Science/Analytic, and Technical/Trade skills), Coaching applies to physical skills (Athletic and Combat skills), Demonstration applies to the power and personal skills (Awareness, Power, and Self-Control skills), while Instruction applies to the rest (Artistic, Crafts, Influence, Outdoor, Subterfuge, and Urban skills).

A character cannot teach something of which he is ignorant—regardless of how good he is at teaching, he can only instruct a student up to the rank at which he possesses the appropriate skill.

The time taken to train in a single rank of a skill, skill category, or skill specialisation depends upon how many ranks the student already possesses in that skill, skill category or skill specialisation. For a skill category, use the following formula:

t(r1?r2) = t1(1 + r1)2

where t(r1?r2) is the time required to advance from rank value 1 (r1) to rank value 2 (r2), in hours (t1 = 1 hour).

The same formula is used for specific spells, but if the character’s skill category rank is less than the resulting skill rank, the result is doubled. Likewise, the formula is also used for skill specialisations, but if the number of ranks in the specialisation exceeds that of the specific skill, the result is doubled. (In those cases, replace t1 = 1 hr with t2 = 2 hr.)

Example: Bron, a sage of some renown, decides to learn a rank in Horse Riding. He has never sat on a horse before, but he has three ranks in Outdoors ? Animal. It only takes him one hour to become accustomed to riding the horse: t(0?1) = t1(1 + 0)2 = 1 hr. Later, Bron decides to increase his knowledge of the History of Southeast Palia. He already has ten ranks in than skill, but only five ranks in the Lore ? General category. Therefore, it takes him 242 hours of research to gain a single rank: t(10?11) = t2(1 + 10)2 = 242 hr. If Bron manages to study constantly for eight hours per day, this will take him 30 days.

To resolve the use of the Teaching skill, roll on the "Moving Manoeuvre Table" using the difference between the instructor’s knowledge level and that of the student’s to calculate the difficulty of the instruction. Subtract the number of ranks the student will have in the appropriate skill from the number of ranks the teacher has presently.

Rank Differential Difficulty
> 10 Routine
8–10 Easy
5–7 Light
2–4 Medium
0–1 Hard

Roll on the appropriate column of the Moving Manoeuvre table. The results are interpreted as follows:

  • If the teacher rolls a natural 66 on his instruction roll, he suddenly stops teaching as a new and unusual use for the skill dawns on him. He loses one rank in the basic skill he was teaching, but gains two in a specific specialisation. Unless he successfully makes a Very Hard Self-Discipline roll, he will drop everything and go to study this new revelation further.
  • Other numerical results: Subtract the number from 100. This is the percentage increase or decrease in time that it took to teach that rank.
  • "Textual Successes" indicate that the student suddenly grasps the very essence of the subject. They automatically gain two extra ranks in the skill in addition to the rank being taught. This result can only be achieved once for a given skill.
  • "Textual Failures" indicate that the student simply cannot understand what the teacher is trying to convey. This causes the teacher to lose faith in his ability to teach, giving him a –25 to all further teaching attempts with that particular student, and –15 with other students until he rolls a natural double 5 or higher.

Bonuses or penalties may be used as modifiers depending upon language barriers, cultural or racial differences, distractions, intelligence of the student(s), complexity of the material, etc. Such modifications are left to the discretion of the GM.

Example: Bron, a sage of some renown, decides to learn a rank in Horse Riding. He has never sat on a horse before, but he has three ranks in Outdoors ? Animal. Ellyon, a ranger, decides to instruct him in how to control the horse. Ellyon has 12 ranks in Horse Riding and a Teaching skill of 75. The difficulty of the instruction is Routine (12 – 0 > 10). Ellyon rolls a 54, yielding a final bonus of 129. When referenced to the Routine column of the Moving Manoeuvre table, this value yields a result of 120. This means that it takes 20% (120 – 100) less time than normal to teach the rank, for a final instruction time of 48 minutes.

Note: In Spacemaster: Privateers, the Moving Manoeuvring Table is called the Personal Manoeuvre Table.

Editor's Note

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