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Double-Substitution of Skills with Talents?

Per Corebook page 82, the talent Ear of the King allows a character to use Society in place of Command in certain circumstantial tests. Per page 62, talent Sophist allows one to substitute Counsel in place of Society on any test.

Therefore, would a character with both Sophist and Ear of the King be allowed to roll Counsel in place of Command?

My feeling is that this would not be overly powerful, especially with the rather considerable prerequisites for Ear of the King. This could make a “spokesman” character significantly more effective at a particular task, but overall wouldn’t change the way the character gets played.

But would it be more correct to interpret this as saying Sophist allows Counsel to be rolled on a Society test, but since when using Ear of the King the player is rolling a Command test, even though they’re using the Society skill, the “double-sub” is not allowed?

Good question regarding cascading skill replacement via Talents.

For “Ear of the Kind” you need quite a few prequisites, one of those (via “A Modicum of Comfort”) is having Society skill Expertise of 1 (or better) to take the root Talent in the Society Talent tree.

“Sophist” only requires Counsel skill Expertise of 1 (or better) to take the root Talent in the Counsel Talent Tree.

The situation where this kind of cascading replace might apply is given in the “Ear of the King” Talent description:

When attempting to spread a message across a large group of people, or even a region, you can substitute your Society skill for Command.

This is a very distinctive application, not a general substitution of Society for Command.
So you would not be able to actually take the role of a commanding officer, leading a military unit, or so, using “The Ear of the King” Talent.

“Sophist” on the other hand is much less limited:

You may substitute Counsel for Persuade or Society.

That is the most broad substitution use case thinkable. Every Persuade or Society test could be made using the Counsel skill Expertise and Focus, if the character has the “Sophist” Talent.

But in that lies the “solution” to the problem in the opening post.

“Sophist” allows you to substitute Counsel for a Persuade test or a Society test.
“The Ear of the King” allows you to substitute Society for a Command test.

There is NO way, that Counsel would be allowed to cascadingly substitute Counsel for Command.
“The Ear of the King” explicitly states the kind of test it applies to: a Command test.
“Sophist” can NOT be used to substitute Counsel for a Command test, only for Persuade tests and Society tests.

Every Skill substitution works the same: the type of test remains of the type of the original skill.
A Command test remains a Command test (and ONLY Command Talents apply, if the character has any).
You only use the numbers, the rank in Expertise and Focus of the substituting Skill, in case of “The Ear of the King” your ranks in Society Expertise and Focus.
It still is a Command test.

So, you cannot use “Sophist” to substitute Counsel for a Command test at all.

Yep, that’s the way I’m leaning. Even though the Society skill is being used in place of Command via Ear of the King, it remains a Command test for the purposes of other talents.

However, given the flavor of Sophist, it can make narrative sense.

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As the “Sophist” Talent is already extremely broad, I would - at a minimum - demand a Fortune point to apply this on “The Ear of the King” Society substitution.
It is a Command test after all, so the well-spoken sophist everyone likes to listen to, is not necessarily the one for giving a rousing speech to a crowd. A Fortune point to allow it once is a small price to pay for something the character is not qualified to do in the first place.

That seems completely reasonable. Metaresources save the day again! Seriously, this is why I love this game.

Modiphius-NathanModiphius Staff

Jun '19

So, there are two specific rulings here, for the sake of clarity:

  • When you have a talent that lets you replace which skill you roll for a test, use the new skill’s normal TN and Focus. This is for the sake of simplicity.
  • When you have a talent which lets you replace which skill you roll for a test, that test still counts as what it was originally: if you’re using Persuade on a Command test, it’s still a Command test, you just get to use your Persuade skill instead. Again, this is for simplicity - I’ve seen people try to justify using one skill replacement talent to set up a second skill replacement talent so they could get all sorts of sneaky extra bonuses.

(Copy and pasted from another thread.)