Friday, August 31, 2012

Skill Under The Spotlight: Academics

For all of those players wondering how to get the most out of Academics and all those Storytellers wondering how to build in uses of the skill, here it is. For those who aren't in the know, or who are wondering how the Academics skill might translate into their own games, Academic covers subjects like History, Social Sciences, Law, Accounting, Psychology (neuropsychology and psychiatry both fall under science / medicine), Liberal arts, Literature, and Philosophy. All of these can be taken as specialties as can any of the uses mentioned below. The higher your level of academics, the more likely I am to allow you certain uses or abilities as a rote or to expand upon the information you can gain. Obviously in the skill uses listed below there are alternative skills that could be used. This isn't meant to be an exhaustive or constraining list but rather to help you brainstorm options available to you.

Find alternate sources / methods to use in researching a subject when the player is stumped (Wits + Academics)
Locate appropriate libraries for the subject matter (Intelligence + Academics)
Write an academic article (Intelligence + Academics)
Research old newspaper archives (Resolve + Academics)
Write a report (Manipulation + Academics)
Convince people that certain facts are wrong (Manipulation + Academics)
Debunk supernatural incidents with scientific theory (Manipulation + Academics)
Navigate money trails to locate a person through their credit card records (Wits + Academics)
Detect fraud by examining money trails (Wits + Academics)
Notice architectural faults which suggest hidden rooms or other designs (Wits + Academics)
Pinpoint flaws in an argument (Wits + Academics)
Recommend historical military or quasi-military tactics (Wits or Intelligence + Academics depending on time constraints).
Date an antique or determine if its fake (Intelligence + Academics)
Analyse a psychological issue (Wits + Academics)
Perform Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or other structured forms of talking therapy (Manipulation or Presence + Academics -- social skills could also be used here)
Perform an oral presentation on an academic subject (Presence + Academics)
Teach an academic subject (Presence + Academics)
Favorably impress someone in an academic field (Presence or Intelligence + Academics)
Comprehend an occult text - this doesn't cover separating occult fact from occult fiction (Intelligence + Occult)
Perform academic research (Resolve + Academics)
Finance - handling budgets (Intelligence or Resolve + Academics)
Test authenticity of documents or objects (Intelligence + Academics)
Document verification - knowing who to contact or what markings to look for (Wits + Academics)
Survive being lambasted by a heavyweight academic (Composure + Academics)
Listen and pay attention to a long-winded but informative speech (Resolve + Academics)
Recall a particular academic fact (Intelligence + Academics)
Find maps, blueprints, or floorplans (Intelligence + Academics)
Gain access to maps, blueprints, or floorplans from government departments (Manipulation + Academics - Bureacratic Navigator merit helps)
Locating online databases of magazine articles (Resolve + Academics)

The reason why I place Psychology under Academics rather than Medicine is because I don't believe that medical training - the understanding of biological processes and medical techniques - lends itself necessarily to good therapeutic practice outside of psychiatry and pharmaceutical drugs. You don't need to know about the nervous system to use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I can personally appreciate putting Psychology under Science as some of the techniques really have easily testable hypothesis (Behaviourism I'm looking at you) but I'm leery of putting it under Medicine because while doctors can be good counsellors and therapists it really isn't a guarantee nor does an understanding of biology help very much when it comes to helping someone cope or pull through from depression.

Of course, Your Mileage May Vary.

By the way you can find the core article with all of the other likely links over here.


  1. been a while since I've run a WoD game, but a lot of those skills, and how they can be used, work just fine in my current game of choice, so I hope you don't mind me stealing them for Unhallowed Metropolis...

  2. Unahllowed Metropolis? Sounds intriguing. Tell me more.