A priests writes a letter to the head of his order, asking for holy knights to be dispatched to the region. Is this a social-skill test with write/caligraphy as a linked test? Is it simply an Ob 2 caligraphy test, with no social skill attached? It came up.
I would likely call for a Persuasion (or Suasion) test and FoRK Calligraphy or Writing to persuade the head of the order.
A linked Ob2 Calligraphy test to the (Per)Suasion test could also be what happens.
However - for the most part, creating the letter isn’t the task - persuading the head of the order is the task, and the Intent is to get an order of Knights. Unless having the letter be legible was important, I would simply say Yes to the Calligraphy test.
Calligraphy is for tasks where the point is to make pretty writing. Writing is for tasks where the point is to make clear and coherent and legible writing. Social skills are for convincing people.
I don’t think Calligraphy sounds appropriate here; it’s not really the point, unless showing your refinement is going to help. A linked test of Writing makes more sense to me: it’s hard to be persuasive on paper if you can’t convey anything well on paper.
Composition is the skill for writing a coherent missive. I’d probably allow social skills and Writing as FoRKs.
Shaun is dead on with composition being the right skill, you don’t structure a persuasive piece of writing the same way you persuade someone in person. I honestly might FORGET that bit at the table, and let the PC roll persuasion anyway, but not in the heat of the moment, Composition is correct.
The possible tests I see that could be linked into this composition tests are:
Write: Write if you need to show the priest you aren’t an illiterate buffoon, I’d likely only call for this if the PC either had a belief about becoming/proving themselves literate, or one about impressing the priest. Calligraphy could maybe do a similar thing, but likely I’d just call it a FoRK into the composition (or previous write) test.
Etiquette: If the risk of offending the priest was relevant to the game, either hitting a belief, or because we’ve established that this guy cares about such things previously and the PCs do not want to piss him off, I might call for an etiquette roll here to see if they know how to properly address and request things from a man of his station. If not, it is another FoRK.
Resources: If a “Tithe” would be appropriate here, a resources test would make a good linked test here, with failure (in addition to tax) meaning you owe the priest one for even considering your letter without paying proper “respects”. If such a tithe would NOT be appropriate here, the PCs can still TRY it, but they better have some other rolls (or prior information about the priest that would support him taking an under the table bribe) to back that up, or else things might get really ugly if they fail. Edit: If it was early on in the game and we were still discovering the culture of the world, I might just say yes to a wise (trained or otherwise) about such bribes being appropriate, since that bit of culture is sure to make things more interesting down the line. It’s only later on in the game where such things have been established as not the way things are done (either directly, or just via their absence in previous dealings with the church), where things would get trickier
As a GM, I don’t think I’ve ever actually asked a player to roll Read or Write. I’m half inclined to house rule them into being a training skill.
I think they’d make very good training skills. I’ve had Write rolled to produce legible text before when readability was in doubt, but it’s certainly not something very important very often beyond the relative binary of literacy.
And wow, I’d forgotten about Composition. I’ve literally never used it and just forgot there was an explicit skill for just this purpose. Well, there you go.
Heh. I hit this one surprisingly often. People will often have Read/Write, then try and get a letter to someone. I sometimes feel bad that Composition comes off as a “gotcha,” but it really is its own skill.
Very interesting. So Let us say you want to send a letter to your holy order, requesting troops be deployed in the region, you make a Composition test, but what are we looking at for Ob? Composition sets composing a letter at Ob 1, but I feel like getting what you want is not intended to be that easy, just because you switch from speaking to writing.
If those troops are to be had for the asking, it’s that easy. But if you have enemies high up in your order, or if there are no troops readily available, or if someone needs to be convinced that yes, you really need those troops earmarked for some other place, or even if the line of communication between you and your order’s fortress is fragile and getting a letter trough might be a problem, then it’s not quite that easy.
In that case, the GM might even say yes to actually writing the letter if there’s no interesting conflict or failure to be had, and focus on different tasks. The intent here is not “I want to write a letter”, but “I want reinforcements”.
So the letter you send to the king, asking for his son to marry your daughter, and the letter you send to the mayor, requesting extra provisions for your garrison, are set at the same obstacle?
In my humble opinion, Write-like skills are mostly used as first-to-go Linked Test supporting main skill based on Intent (e.g.: PC Noble writes a letter to king about marrying his daughter, so he support his Persuasion with Write/Composition [or Caligraphy, depends on the nature of letter and style of task] Linked Test).
In that case, simple Ob 1 for Composition looks less ridiculous - you still can fail (all traitors on dice) and add +1 Ob to main test, GM can also add some +1/+2 Ob for time pressure (e.g.: you have only one short night to write many pages of a letter).
Basically, yes. But writing is just producing written words. It’s not persuasion, bureaucracy, falsehood, calligraphy, composition or whatever. If you want to make convincing arguments or manipulate someone or even produce an impressive calligraphic document, you will need other skills.
The question is, is the task really appropriate to the intent? Is writing a letter really enough to arrange a marriage with a prince? No other obstacles in the way? The king is your best friend and the kids like each other just fine? Write away! Same goes for the supplies. Chances are, you could just say yes in this case, since there seems to be no conflict here.
On the other hand, if there are interesting conflicts here, just writing a letter will probably not be enough. If the king does not want this marriage, or if the mayor hates your guts and wants to see you dead, then you can write as neat a letter as you want; on its own, it’s not an appropriate task for your intent. You will need some other skills, too; some FoRKs at the very least.
Interesting take. So let’s say I want to duplicate a scene from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and enact a dastardly plan. My plan is to have the director-general, my rival, implicated in a plot to overthrow our lord, so he will be called back from the front, and arrested. To do this, I fake a letter to our lord, implying that the director-general is collaborating with the enemy general to extend the fight at the front, so they can siphon off weapons, food, and troops, only to turn around and lead an attack on our lord’s seat of power.
To accomplish this intent, what am I looking at in terms of task (and maybe some relevant FoRKS and/or linked tests) and Obstacle. In your opinions.
Forging a compromising letter that looks like it was written by your enemy would be Forgery.¹ Ob 4 for the whole package of handwriting, signature and seal (Ob 8 if you want it to be perfect). You would need a letter of his to work with; perhaps a linked test with Circles and/or Resources to get hold of one, if you’re not corresponding with him. FoRKs would depend on how this letter would look in your world; Writing probably, appropriate Wises certainly (Intrigue-Wise, High-Politics-Wise, Court-Wise, My-Old-Nemesis-Wise …), and perhaps in this case Strategy or Logistics, if you can come up with something clever, to make it real.
You could, of course, also go another way and use something like Rumor-Wise to create rumors about your enemy. Make him suspect, and then link that into writing a suspicious letter to him, or forging one of his.
Edit: Nearly forgot – I am assuming that the letter itself is enough to set things in motion. Otherwise, you might need a linked test to plant it somewhere (Sleight-of-Hand, Lockpicking, whatever is necessary) or convince someone you just picked it up when it dropped out of your enemy’s pocket, or even Circles or a Wise to create a suitable person it can be addressed to.
¹ Ah. I just realized you’re talking about a letter by a “concerned friend”, right? If you just want any old letter accusing your enemy, not a fake one of his, that would probably be Falsehood plus Composition, Writing and Intrigue-Wise, or perhaps other FoRKs as above. It seems like that would be a whopper of a lie, though, in which case Ob = Will of the Lord +1 (or +2 even; also, a juicy failure result.) Add a linked test for Forgery if the letter needs to look like it really is from some other person.
In regards to the original post question, I always thought this is why religious acolytes have bureaucracy as a lifepath skill, to know how to work the system to get their requests to the right people.
I’d probably go with a writing test linked to a Circles test.
I’ve used Read and Write tests all over the place when it makes sense and if something interesting is at stake.