Working on the Hunters of the Seven States has given me cause to go back and question my assignment of hunters to Survival and scouts to Perception. Originally, I think I had in mind that Perception was a great defensive skill to have, while Survival would be the more effective in an offensive role… but am I the only one now who thinks that I had these two backwards from the beginning?

Technically, I’ve been going back and forth over these two skills a lot throughout their entire existence. I’ve experimented with making them the same skill, different skills, breaking them into smaller, separate skills, and then I eventually settled on the current state, with them as individual and equal skills. Then along came the class concepts.

Sifting through class concepts has given me innumerable opportunities to examine the flexibility of the skill system I’ve designed, and the process of assigning powers based on the skills themselves has contributed a great deal to the game’s consistency. I’ll admit that some class-skill combinations were conjecture until I focused on them.

Scouts and hunters, with the Perception and Survival skills being one example, with clerics and mystics using the Cultures and Intuition skills, being another. My research for the hunter turned up another potential difficulty, in the hunter/sneak area. While I want to give tracking to hunters, stealth is the purview of the sneak (Deception).

Then, while I was working on something somewhat related to these skills, but largely independent of them (“Selecting, Securing, and Protecting Camp”), it occurred to me that I had things just a little bit backward. It wasn’t that I was wrong to make a decision before, I just have to accept the more correct answer in light of new information.

Survival is meant to reflect more than “just” survival skills — it was intended to cover a lot of the same stuff that the Third Edition Wilderness Survival, Knowledge (Nature), and Animal Handling skills were supposed to represent. To a lesser extent, it also represents the Spot, Search (also: orienteering), and Listen skills in the outdoors.

Then there are more esoteric uses for it, like creating an ambush in a mountain pass. The skill system is supposed to be robust enough that any given skill reflects more than just its “traditional” uses, but some of the important skills that should be inherent to every adventurer, like Spot, Listen, Search, and related Knowledge.

Now, when it comes to Perception, we’re talking about something way more “hardcore” than traditional Spot, Listen, and Search skills. Perception is also about observation, and putting one’s powers of perception to work. There’s knowledge associated with it, and Perception carries more lethality than it’s normally given credit.

So, basically what I’m saying is that scouts are about Survival, and hunters are about Perception. I’ve made it sound all mysterious, but that’s what it boils down to.