In preparation for our character creation session on the 25th, I’ve gone through the list of traits with an eye for how they might come into play on a cattle drive. These simply reflect the things I’ve thought up. You guys might think of used for these traits I hadn’t considered. I’ll go through it on Saturday, but since I had it, I thought I’d go ahead and post it here for those already thinking about their characters. In reading this list and my comments remember that all skills all have a governing attribute in the sense that it costs one skill point per step to raise a skill up to the level of its governing attribute, but it costs two skill points per step to raise a skill beyond the level of its governing attribute.
Agility: Agility is the attribute that governs most of the cowboy type skills including shooting, fighting, riding and throwing. It gets rolled by itself when attempting to get out of the way of projectile explosives or stampeding cattle. A good attribute not to neglect.
Smarts: Smarts may be more situational than Agility. It will be important for certain Arcane Backgrounds and their associated skills. This one also covers the other side of the cowboy skills in tracking and survival. The social skills of taunt and streetwise are governed by Smarts. Smarts is rolled alone when an issue of common knowledge arises.
Spirit: Spirit governs the guts skill, as well as those for the arcane backgrounds not covered by Smarts. The social skills of Intimidation and Persuasion are also governed by Spirit. Spirit is rolled by itself to recover from the shaken condition. Since the goal in such a roll is to get a raise, spirit is a very useful attribute to have.
Strength: Trying to control three-quarters of a ton of angry pot roast is going to take some muscle. Ideally, you will use your mount and riding skill, but on foot, it is just you and the beef. Also, Strength is added to your damage with melee weapons, useful when a creepy or a crawly has jumped on your face.
Vigor: A cattle drive is hard work. Vigorous individuals have less chance of succumbing to fatigue. Vigor is usually rolled by itself to determine fatigue and such a determinatin could happen fairly frequently.
Boating[Agility]: Unless something weird happens (not unheard of, the place is called “the weird west” after all) if boating enters into our adventure we’ve probably taken a wrong turn somewhere. There will be rivers to cross, but they are generally forded.
Climbing[Strength]: The terrain will range from deserts to plains to mountains. Opportunities to climb will exist, but may not be ever present.
Driving[Agility]: This skill pertains to the operation of vehicles such as wagons or steam automobiles. These are not used to control cattle on a drive. Unless you own one, you probably won’t be driving one.
Fighting[Agility]: The standard melee combat ability. Granted, cowboys do a lot of shooting, but a pistol becomes less useful against a crawly on your face.
Gambling[Smarts]: Possibly something to do during downtime with the other trail hands. There may be towns with saloons as well.
Guts[Spirit]: Creepies and Crawlies are scary. The extent to which they scare you depends upon your guts roll. Be brave, little camper.
Healing[Smarts]: Injuries are commonplace on the trail. Having someone who knows how to treat them could be a great help.
Intimidation[Spirit]: Apart from being useful in tests of will, Intimidation can be used during the face off of a duel to unnerve an opponent. Possibly a good skill for a gunman to have.
Investigation[Smarts]: This typically deals with research done in a library or similar setting. Probably won’t be a lot of books and such on the trail.
Knowledge[Smarts]: A catch all skill governing pretty much anything you want your character to know about. Outsiders will want some points in Knowledge(English) if you want to understand and be understood.
Lockpicking[Agility]: Locks that can’t be smashed, bashed or shot open will likely be very rare.
Notice[Smarts]: Can mean the difference between seeing the crawly before it lands on your face or seeing it after it lands on your face. Here’s a hint, one of these is preferable.
Persuasion[Spirit]: In a forum post I may have miswrote and seriously undercut the usefulness of persuasion. It is true that greasing of the wheels will mostly be out of your characters hands. Your employeer will handle the administrative duties on his own. He’s a stubbon old codger that way. This is not, however, to say that there won’t be places where persuasion would come in very handy. While I wouldn’t suggest neglecting some of the more consistantly useful skills, like riding, having someone with a silver tongue may certainly be worth while. I created a character example that focused on persuasion and put him in the character section. Have a look.
Piloting[Agility]: If you’re a weird scientist with some sort of flying contraption, this skill may come in handy. Otherwise, you can probably skip this one for more terrestrial skills.
Repair[Smarts]: A good skill for mad scientists, it would also be useful for a blacksmith or wheelwright. Wagon wheels can break.
Riding[Agility]: Possibly the most useful skill for driving cattle. This is how they are controlled. It covers pretty much everything done from the back of a horse.
Shooting[Agility]: Another cowboy staple. Likely your major method of agression. Point and squeeze.
Stealth[Agility]: While it may be difficult to talk two thousand cows to tip toe, when away from the heard lots of things are possible. Getting somewhere without a creepy or crawly noticing you, might at some point be a good thing.
Streetwise[Smarts]: This is gettng information by talking to people. There will be towns along the drive. This skill may be usefull for getting the people in them to open up to outsiders.
Survival[Smarts]: Hunting, gathering, living off the land, those certainly couldn’t be bad skills to have during an extended period away from towns and such.
Swimming[Agility]: There will be rivers to cross. If you try for some reason to get across them without your horse, this would be the skill you would use.
Taunt[Smarts]: Like intimidation, this can be used as a test of will and to unnerve your opponent in a duel. Rather than a steely stare, you say something bad about his mother.
Throwing[Throwing]: Apart from being useful for chucking knives or dynamite, this is the skill used for getting your lariat around the neck of the stray beeve you’ve been chasing down.
Tracking[Smarts]: This is the skill used to find that stray beeve so you can lasso it and lead it back to the herd.