Salvage and 'generic' results

TL: DR Do you think it’s acceptable to test Scavenge as a Graduated Test?

My group (or at least one of the Players) and I are having trouble wrapping our heads around the Scavenge skill, and how it works with the foundations of Intent and Task plus Failure. The game revolves around a Nautical setting and one of the Characters is a diver/salvager (he took some initial homebrew traits that improve his swimming abilities). The party also still happen to be quite poor, with only one of the four having a Resources of B1, and the rest are at B0.

The Player has written Beliefs that revolve around finding ship wrecks and searching them for valuables and weapons (canons), and then used circles and social skills to research potentially interesting ship wreck sites. The group have then sailed off to these locations to allow the diver to wreck dive and search for valuables. The player states his Intent, “Search the Wreck for anything that is interesting”, with the Task, “Using my Scavenge skill”.

This is where the problem arises. As GM, I don’t envision the game’s long term focus being “Underwater Treasure Hunter”, and so I haven’t being putting any of my (limited) time and effort into creating detailed shipwrecks. On the other hand, I don’t have an issue with the PCs scrounging up some extra Cash Dice to help them break out of the B0 Resources pit. My understanding of the RAW is that a standard test would require the Player to state a specific, obstacle based, type of item to search for. The Player finds this frustrating, since he wants to search for anything that catches his eye. And I should mention that this game is, by my intent, somewhat sandboxy, in that the “metaplot” is loose and flexible, more about possible challenges than an evil villain with a schedule for world domination (or what have you).

Having just perused the rules again, it seems a Graduated Test might cover this situation fairly well. One success? You find rags! Four successes? Nice bag of Cash! As for Failure, no successes would mean dire consequences (stuck in the wreck, attacked by a school of rabid guppies…). And stuff is always happening in the background, so spending a week sailing about and wreck diving, well… that has larger plot consequences. (I guess I just answered my own question, but after writing all this, I figured I’d post it for both feedback and to help anyone else that bumps into this)

And I suppose I could roll a die to randomly determine the ‘maximum value’ of each wreck as he decides to salvage dive…

Are you talking about the Scavenging skill?

Doh! yes… yes I am. I’ll edit my post to reflect that. I guess I got too wrapped up in my own nautical theme…

I guess you could do it that way. Bear in mind, though, that if neither you nor he can think of anything BIT-related or otherwise interesting for him to scavenge up, you should probably consider just Saying Yes. Additionally, if you do decide to go with the graduated tests, the player is gonna eventually get tired of only ever getting routine tests towards scavenging (remember, graduated tests count as Ob 1, which will be routine for almost everyone).

I’m a fan of Graduated Tests, especially with characters that have little Skill. It puts some of the trust back into the relationship between the player and GM, especially if the GM makes the results fun.

But definitely try to make the move to specific Obs once the skill gets high enough or the stakes start becoming focused.

We find Scavenging very useful. We’re always digging around for tools and cash.

If your player doesn’t have an intent, don’t call for a test. Say Yes and describe how awesome he/she is. This doesn’t mean you need to turn over lost treasures without a fight, just that if your player isn’t interested in rolling, he’s probably interested in exploring the setting. Give him some cool descriptions!


Yeah, I always ask for an intent as usual. If they exceed the ob I’ll often give them something extra, even if they didn’t spend the 1s on “patiently” after the test.

The problem as I see it, is that the player has beliefs about salvaging wrecks, but doesn’t want to think about the details, whilst you don’t envisage a game about that at all.
If that’s his belief you both need to fully engage with it, maybe then it will go away. (Or change the belief).

Eh, the Belief I can deal with. The declared intent is weak. You need to suss out a better intent.

Intent: “I want to salvage some money”
Test: Set the Ob as appropriate for 1D or 2D of cash (I suggest Obs as per loans). Shipwreck-wise or whatever works as a linked test.
Success: Money!
Failure: Stolen money! Fools gold! Attacked by pirates!

Intent: “I want to find something valuable to sell”
Test: Essentially the same as above, with standard Obs based on how rare he wants in a general sense. Fork in any ship-related wises. He then has to sell the loot to get cash.
Success: Loot!
Failure: Stolen loot! Pirates! Royal Navy!