Thursday, June 9, 2016

Professional vs Technical

My petty breakthrough is differentiating professional and technical skills. Which is pretty much: professional is about being able to perform multiple roles within a specialty while technical expertise is superior technical competence at the expense of being flexible enough to change roles or work well within a team.

So in gurps and in my ORPG I'll be using this concept to differentiate the two. The definitions bellow can be used also in DnD 3.X with the Craft Skill vs Profession Skill but double the Penalties and Bonuses because it uses d20 vs 3d6. This would be also useful in Traveller as is.

GURPS Definition (3rd rewrite)

  • made up the Core Technical skill with familiarity with some of the other related skills and roles.
  • Performing its specific role and tasks, this skill functions at +1 level of competence.
  • Once outside and dealing with the other roles found in the general field the skill suffers an Unfamiliar penalty of up to -2.
  • Characters with this specialization, when not in their Ideal specialized role or tasks perform at -2. (thus not making them team players)
  • Functions 2 levels removed from their core task is at a -4 to -5 penalty or worse.
  • this made up many of sub technical skills and knowledge related to the Profession and the many roles that are part of it. A familiarity with all of the roles and the ability to know how they all work together.
  • Depend on the support of others, Professional performs at -2 level of technical competence.
  • With the support of others, Professionals function equal to the Average skill of the group +1.

Trade Offs and Game Mechanics
A team of technical need to have defined roles vs a team of professionals can mix it up but are not as good as a team of technical that have their specific roles.

It solves many of the problems in games where there is a professional skill but there is a key technical skill. Wording it just right will take many iterations.

Specialization vs generalization game design mechanics that make them both important but make it a challenging and fun thing to balance.

see notes on Professional Skill Scope

Some Notes

  • The Technical Specialist vs the Generalist of the Field will be something which will fluctuate constantly from the past to the future. Generalists may incorporate more unorthodox skills into their professions with disruptive technology and market factors. While specialists will be valued for their superior value - of their expertise at that point of time. We dont know what expertise will be obsolete and we don't want to keep generalizing and lose focus in key capabilities. We will rise to specialization and fall back down to generalization (if our skills are still relevant in the industry).
  • In a more high tech setting, former Specializations would be more common as we change careers more often and disruptive technologies take up the specializations.
  • Generalists will specialize over time at the expense of other functions if they don't perform it or work more closely to it. 
    • As a rule of thumb the GM can let players shift between the two in Watershed moments of character development - the way in Real Life we have normalized deviation or shifts in how we do things and our skillset. 
  • In Real Life - people cannot help but have the skills they have. Only a few would have the agency to have more influence in how their skills work. One of the barriers in real life is that most people and businesses are really winging it and can get away with it (examples like the Big Short and Thinking Fast and Slow attribution of Skill vs Luck in Trading). 

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