I get wises are used to find out information in the game world, or to make declarations about the game world by the player. But forks are eluding me.
So in the book the example of a dwarven history skill check being made, with Dwarf Wise being forked into it. This is an example of when it obviously works. But I am curious on when is it usually acceptable to fork in wises? For instance, when is it appropriate to use wise while doing physical things, if I am blacksmithing a sword, and have sword-wise, is that appropriate to fork? If I am assassinating someone is it appropriate for assassin-wise to be forked?
How far do the knowledge of things go into my doing things?
I guess as a back-up question, are wises like assassin-wise and drunk-wise knowing about assassinations and drinking, or is it knowing assassins and drunks as in the people?
The scope of a skill, especially a wise, should be determined when it’s opened, ideally. I lean towards broadness; Assassin-Wise covers knowing about assassins, their practices and their habits. Not assassination directly (that’s Assassination-Wise), but in practice it would probably apply. I’m lenient like that.
When the wise can be FoRKed into a skill is up to the GM. Sword-Wise seems like an obvious FoRK for smithing a sword, but you could also use Orc-Wise to make a sword for an Orc. The best test is whether the wise links to the intent. Court Intrigue-Wise seem unrelated to swordsmithing, but what if you want to make a sword for the duke that will offend the neighboring count? Knowing what iconography would be subtly insulting would definitely be helpful, and knowing swords general might not. Fashion-Wise might be useful if you want to make a sword to sell, because you know that smallswords are out and rapiers are in for gentlemen this year. As long as you can justify the Wise you can FoRK it.
Wises are all about adding to the world, too. An unexpected Wise fork, if justified by the player, should introduce a new element into the world.
With regards to whether a Wise could help you find a certain type of person, it relates to your task and intent. “I know the habits of assassins, because I’m Assassin-wise, so I know the places to eliminate right off the bat when I try to find an assassin. They never hang around the merchants in the seedy districts in town; they get their supplies elsewhere.”
One thing to point out: because FoRKs will increase the number of dice you roll, FoRKing all the time will prevent advancement. That’s one of BW’s secrets: your skill is not at all the limit on the dice you roll. Very often it’s actually the players deciding how many dice they want (via FoRKs and help, balanced against advancement, and artha, balanced against saving artha for later) and then rolling. The GM’s job is to give appropriate Obs and consequences of failure that make the choice hard.
I once made a character with Apocalypse-wise with the specific intent do doing just this. Shame that our real world schedules never really worked, and as a result that game never really got off the ground.