I’ve seen a few species that have one or more required Talents (e.g., Betazoids, Soong-type Androids, Liberated Borg), but Vulcans do no seem to have any such requirement to take specific species talents. However, it seems these abilities are ubiquitous among 24th-century Vulcans.
Do we ever see a (non-disabled) 24th-century Vulcan that is explicitly unable to perform a Mind-Meld and/or Nerve Pinch in any of the source materials? Note that Vulcans simply not having been shown to use these techniques is not explicit evidence that they cannot do so for these purposes.
I cannot remember seeing one. But at least for the Mind Meld techniques, we have ENT explaining that it is explicitly trained and not ‘innate’ in a way that all Vulcans are automatically capable of doing it (as opposed by, let’s say, probably Betazoids and their telepathy). All we know from Spock and especially Tuvok in the later eras is that it requires thorough training to master it.
Thus, if a player declares that their character simply never trained these skills to the level necessary to actually perform it, I would definetly allow it and would not request them to take the talent. Same goes for the nerve pinch, because, why not?
I think a better way of looking at the mind meld would be that all Vulcan’s are innately telepathic but without the proper training they are likely to hurt the person they are melding with. Increased complication range and increased difficulty for a Vulcan to make the attempt without the talent.
Yes, the Enterprise era showed that not all Vulcans know the Mind Meld (which, most sources show without the hyphen), but that was explained as something particular to that era. By the 24th century, I can’t think of any canon Vulcan that explicitly cannot use Mind Meld and Nerve Pinch.
There are a bunch that are not shown to know it, either…
we never see psionics in Dr (Lt) Selar, for example. Recurrent minor character, TNG. One would think she’d be the one treating Commander Troi when the psionic badness happens…
More importantly: it’s shown to be part of a repressed subculture, not the dominant culture… but one that, between Ent and Dis, seems to have both come to power and made a large chunk of social engineering changes. We Know T’Pau is, in fact, the same T’Pau, apparently Spock’s clanhead (possibly even a relative), and she is considered by Kirk to be the face of Vulcan… and she’s part of that suppressed sect of psionics. As is, by extension, Spock, Sarek, and Sybok. (And we know how Sybok turned out…) Even more ironic…
T’PAU: What they are about to see comes down from the time of the beginning, without change. This is the Vulcan heart. This is the Vulcan soul. This is our way. Kah-if-farr.
They the traditionalist faction hanging on to the religion.
3-4 generations seldom wipes out religious discrimination and concurrent hate in the real world… I don’t think it’s any more likely on Vulcan, especially since the logic is shown to be that it truly is a danger to have uncontrolled psionic activity.
In my campaign, I made the following as required talents to be taken by a species during character creation:
Betazoid- Empath or Telepath
Deltan- Deltan Pheromones
Rigellian Chelon- Chelon Shell and Toxic Claws
Rigellian Jelna- Exosex
Soong Android- Pollyalloy Construction and Positronic Brain
Zaranite- Multispectral Vision
With the Vulcans, from my memory of the species through watching the shows, Kolinahr was a practice that not all Vulcan’s tried or succeeded at performing. If I recall correctly, the Mind Meld was also a practice that needed to be perfected by an individual to not potentially cause damage to either party. In this case, I would use @PicardX’s method of increasing difficulty and complication for anyone without the talent attempting the procedure.
As for the Nerve Pinch, I view that as a form of martial arts practiced by the Vulcan’s. Those who learn it (and take the talent) may utilize it, regardless of species as long as they have a background story for how they learned the practice if they are not Vulcan.
Specifically, it is the subject of a significant cultural reformation which began in 2154 (the Enterprise episodes The Forge, Awakening, and Kir’shara), and which was soon after followed by the Vulcans allying with Earth, Andor, and Tellar Prime to fight the Romulans, and then the subsequent founding of the Federation. There’s a fairly dramatic uptake of the cultural changes from that episode, so I don’t think it’s fair to characterise it as a slow change over generations, particularly as the culture it’s replacing is one of cynicism and paranoia.
And here are my two pence for this topic:
The Vulcan Nerve Pinch is ‘just’ a martial arts technique. Thus it is quite possible that a Vulcan never learned it.
VOY established that the Mind Meld is dangerous. And ENT established that you have to learn it. But TNG and DIS established that it is an integral part of Vulcan culture. Thus a Vulcan character needs are very good reason for not having this talent. Perhaps they were raised off planet in a predominantly non-Vulcan society.
I don’t think so. Just because Burnham knows it and can use it does not mean that the Vulcan Nerve Pinch is taught in school. According to issue #1 of Discovery: Aftermath children are forbidden to learn it.
Even if most learn it as a child, that still means they don’t innately possess the ability, thus not all types of characters necessarily learned it. Even those that did learn it aren’t necessarily proficient in its use, especially if they have used it rarely since, and if they’re not proficient, it really doesn’t make sense for them to have the talent. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t use the ability, of course. Like Nathan suggested on another thread, you can let a Vulcan that does not have the Nerve Pinch talent use it by spending a Determination. Same could go with Mind Meld, they aren’t necessarily good enough at it to justify a talent, but you could spend determination to use it once.
My thread title asks if it is unusual for a 24th-century Vulcan to not know these techniques, not whether it is impossible for them to not know them. I realize that they are not absolutely required to take the talents which show competence in the techniques, but I still think that such Vulcans would be viewed, at least by other Vulcans, in a disdainful manner similar to how an illiterate and innumerate inhabitant of a first world nation is often viewed today. And just as such an individual is unlikely to be selected to join a prestigious post in the United Nations, such Vulcans are probably not Starfleet material.
And a strict stance like that is going to mean that there’s less variety between Vulcan characters because they’re all required to take a set of talents in order to be considered “properly Vulcan”.
Which, really, is harsher than it needs to be. As a rule, I only make a talent mandatory if it represents some universal physiological standard for that species - Betazoids have some degree of telepathic capability, Klingons have a high degree of natural resilience owing to Brak’lul.
But the Nerve Pinch (a combative expression of Vulcan Neuropressue, a skill that can be learned and taught, not an innate ability) and the Mind Meld (something which all Vulcans have the potential for, but which takes extensive training to use safely and effectively) are not fundamental parts of being a Vulcan. They’re techniques common to Vulcans, but no more.
Saying that “Vulcans who can’t Nerve Pinch is like them being illiterate and innumerate” is, IMO, the wrong way to go about things, and honestly, “TAS shows children bragging about knowing it” doesn’t really sell me on the idea, because it’s an instance of children being petty and malicious (and thus, not something I take as a definitive source on anything).
In short: let characters be themselves. Don’t require complex background excuses for not taking a particular option, or introduce additional narrative hardships just because a character doesn’t live up to your expectations for that species or culture.