Violetta Daviau

A blogging roleplayer in Second Life

Jobs and Skills

DISCLAIMER: The RP Guides are free to share! I just demand that my Name (Violetta Daviau) keeps in the NCs / Copies and is being mentioned as creator. The classes and guides are not to not be altered.

Definitions

A job is a regular activity performed in exchange for payment. A person usually begins a job by becoming an employee, volunteering, or starting a business. The duration of a job may range from an hour (in the case of odd jobs) to a lifetime (in the case of some judges). If a person is trained for a certain type of job, they may have a profession. The series of jobs a person holds in their life is their career.
~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Job_%28role%29

A skill is the learned ability to carry out a task with pre-determined results often within a given amount of time, energy, or both. In other words the abilities that one possesses. Skills can often be divided into domain-general and domain-specific skills. For example, in the domain of work, some general skills would include time management, teamwork and leadership, self motivation and others, whereas domain-specific skills would be useful only for a certain job. Skill usually requires certain environmental stimuli and situations to assess the level of skill being shown and used.
~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skill

Occurance of Jobs & Skills in Roleplay

In roleplay environments Jobs occur often but not always as being linked to a role. Being a warrior is either a term for a certain caste or guild, a globalization for more specific assignments like gladiator, guard, soldier and similar, or a generalization for any type of fighter. Being a smith means already the quite specific task of forging iron ore or refined iron into usable tools, weapons, armors, building components, and also creating jewelry and likewise.
While some of these jobs are reflecting a roleplayed character throughout their circle of adventures or lifetime story (warrior, bard, magician, scribe, etc.) others are often rather a background occurance for the traveling hero respectively used for mundane living characters to give them a basic value for the community (smith, peasant, etc.).

Skills are a broad range of passive or actively usable abilities of a character which are usually reflect by a binary Yes/No presence (“I can”, “I cannot”) or come in degrees (“I have 10 of possible 12 in the polearm fighting skill”).

Risks and Benefits of Jobs & Skills

Roleplay lives, often but not exclusively, by interaction and problem solution, by the facing and besting of challenges and the overcoming of obstacles. These challenges can often be categorized, and certain classes, skill- and jobholders appear to be best fit for certain contributions to solve aspects of the problems. This surely depends on the granularity of the class/job system: If the class is generalized on Healer, a person will deal with any wound/illness, if it is broken down to dentist, combat medic, surgon etc. a representant of these will not be able to perfectly work any occurance of medical issues.

Often times adventure parties are formed around these aspect solutions: In RPG or MMORPG groups you find hence a defensive fighter (Warrior/Tank), a Healer, a Thief/Lockpicker, a Mage – in MMORPGs usually Tank/Healer and the rest being Damage Dealers.

The benefits of having a respective specialist at hand when a certain challenge is faced, even if found out by surprise (“oh, our street urchin is the child of a shell diver, he can get the lost key from the ground of the lake”), are obvious. The risks though of solving challenges is exactly that: That the challenge is solved, the obstacle overcome, the problem sorted out.
Why? The better question is: What then?
Without challenges/problems/obstacles the roleplay will be reduced to more or less simple interaction – e.g. the party after having defeated the big grand evil. This of course shall not be an advertising for problems never being solved, rather more it is supposed to care for not stomp the problem into the dust so fast that it appears as really minor. As for gamemastered surroundings or else surroundings in which single players relay on the creativity of others “to entertain” them, quick solutions also tend to destroy the hard work of those others.

Big to epic adventures, meaningful and fulfilling solutions are being experienced by exactly not going the quick & easy route – both as player as as played character. On a side note: The difference between IC and OOC here is that the player may well know the perfect solution of a problem, but the character, due to e.g. the time period (s)he lives in, the education level or their skillset, does not.

The psychology of perfection

Players, roleplayers, are “only” humans too. And many of them tend to both get very attached to their played character’s personality and wellbeing as well as to their character’s value to the community. They think that they can only be a valuable contributor they face and prevent any risk for their character’s reputation and wellbeing if they solve every challenge right away and in exactly the way demanded or even better.

That leads to them, not knowing or able to explain how they got something or why they can do something, “summoning” all kinds of items and skills from thin air. Suddenly the group’s sorcerer, finding himself as sole left with the others unconscious, becomes a pro healer or finds a never explicitly acquired healing potion in his bag. The jobless beggar facing tavern prices resembling daylight robbery pays with gold just so no one can accuse the character of being a bilk or thief.

Nothing of that is the case, nothing of that is bad, and even if the “goal of the game master” is to make the character look bad for a moment – the character, not the player! – such sudden summonings, quick and easy way but implausible solutions are counterproductive to the entire roleplay.

The character is supposed to face another challenge, the initially faced challenge is often only meant as a starter for much bigger and overarching adventures or plotlines.
In above mentioned examples, the game master had maybe forseen that the group indeed gets captured and has to further play to break out from the dungeon before continueing with the original task, or even to get a valuable hint, artifact or similar in given dungeon, before they, usually, escape anyways. The beggar was maybe supposed to be not able to pay a rip-off price, and would be given a thrilling task in order to earn his/her drink – and that task would turn out a challenging adventure, with lots of interaction possibilities for the beggar and others.

A good game master (explicit as implicit) and good co-roleplayers will respect the wish of the player of a single, challenged character to either maintain or later regain their health and reputation, and will either offer plots for that or else play it out with them.
Death in roleplay – especially in genres that do not support the resurrection – is a concept for highly experienced roleplayers. The concept of “ICA=ICC” (In Character Action results in In Character Consequences, or simple: “You get a fitting reaction to your action, so don’t kick the dragon against the shin if you cannot beat it”), mutual fairness and longterm considerations for interaction play into that equation. That will be explained further in another guide though.

Another fear that many players face is that they miss out on roleplay and due to that care to finish the plot rather fast. That results, in extremes, in a city facing the attack of a dragon, the smith going quickly to his workshop, hammering some iron into a magical sword, and if the warrior does not want, the smith will slay the dragon himself. Dragon dead, all experienced, nothing missed, all can go to bed happily, right?
No! Not right. That smith just destroyed the play for near the entire city’s players and visitors, and that out of sheer selfish reasons. The dragon would not have destroyed the city and killed all inside anyways, but with the smith’s action, no one can play to seek for solutions, no one can play to find the ingredients for the magical sword, no one can play to bribe or do a quest for the mage to enchant the iron, no one can build repairing the damages, healing the wounded, no one can go to seek the dragon’s lair and slay it during it’s sleep, the city will not prosper from the conquered dragon hoard.
And on player / game master level the other players cannot live out their role, the game master (or the others that are able to start roleplay plots) will have to consider yet a new plot that will keep people busy and enjoying the play – aside of players that log on eventually later than the “smith” will neither be able to partake in the plot at all.

The biggest risk from these kinds of challenge eradications by going fast track, quick and easy way, lays in the interaction between players: One that goes, out of fear or sheer selfishness, these easy routes, invents things and skills on the go, just so his character appears the best, strongest, all at once solving “god”, has a huge chance to destroy the fun and character definitions of the players around them: So it may be that said “smith” invents to have skills that define another player’s character and thus directly steals roleplay from that one. Also it can be that someone who acts carelessly up to unrealistically with money – e.g. by donating the next beggar just a gold coin – totally devastes the life story of said beggar or forces him to let his beggar character do up to implausible things himself in order to get his role back in line.

Finding one’s level of proficiency

In many skill and level based RPGs character progression is a central part while many MMORPGs reduce that often to having a minor impact with the magical gear being the core of progression. In sheer basic roleplay surroundings one might have to care for that oneself.

Given that both challenges as well as shortcomings enhance roleplay, making it more thrilling, rewarding, and long, no one needs to start from Zero either. A certain level of skills can be expected from an adventurer or else person that fills a job. A smith that has no clue of how to do the most basics from his job (the character needs to know that, not the player) is no smith. A warrior unable to swing a sword is maybe rather a knave or servant than a warrior. Again also this does not mean that there is black or white, either the character knows it all or nothing.

One has to find a senseful level of skills and job proficiency: E.g. a human village smith of 30 years might not be the best weapon smith, while the hundreds of years old dwarf under the mountain knows even to craft the finest magical artifacts. Also the old warrior may know best tactics and feints, but is physically not as agile or strong anymore as the young warrior. The mechanic that in his past worked mostly on cars might not know how to fix a power generator. The bar maid that is strong enough to carry several beer crates at once might not be bright enough to calculate the price sharing of a group of guests.

All what one player’s character cannot do offers interaction and roleplay inclusion of others, and vice versa those others will come to the player’s character if they need the skills of them. Senseful skills. If the barber tends to each and every time quick and easy solve every adventure/challenge by suddenly having godlike skills in everything needed, people will, over time, abstain to include them just as if that character replies everything with “I am not skilled enough”.

And no adventure needs to be solved within an hour of play, not in multiplayer games. Going the fast way to solve everything usually comes at the expense of realism, plausibility, role authenticty and is often just seen as bad, low level roleplay skill of a player.