First, something that a few folks have misunderstood is the nature of the relationship between General Skills and Specialized Skills. A General Skill is an overarching Skill that covers all of the Specializations under it (unless noted otherwise, like with Computers). Let's take Athletics as an example. If you have an Athletics Rank of 3, then you have all Athletics Specialization Skills at Rank 3, built in. This is why it takes as long as it does to raise your Athletics Skill during play. The Skill covers all types of Athletics. Practice would represent an overall training regimen.
However, Acrobatics is a Specialized Skill under the subset of Athletics. You can't really have a lower Acrobatics Skill than you have a Athletics Skill because Athletics includes Acrobatics. The reason you might have a higher Acrobatics score is maybe your Character is a gymnast or a dancer and wants those moves to be a focus for them. The player will be able to raise their Acrobatics Rank faster alone than if they spent the same time on Athletics as a whole.
Which brings us to our first clarification point, which is "Raising Specialized Skill Ranks". In the section on Character Creation, on page 148, we cover the Character Creation Point costs for both General and Specialized Skills. As you can see there, the concept of having a higher Specialized Skill Rank than its related General Rank is built in. What isn't covered in this section or specifically in Goals and Progress Chapter, is how to raise a Specialized Skill Rank during gameplay. In general, the book dictates that it takes a number of Sessions equal to the Rank you're trying to achieve. But If you're Athletics is Rank 3 and you have no Specializations and you decide that you'd like your next new Skill to be Acrobatics, the rules might lead you to believe that you should only have to practice for one Session to get to Rank 1, right? Except you already have Acrobatics at Rank 3. What isn't called out - specifically - in the rule book is that if you are attempting to improve a Specialized Skill then you use the Rank of that Skill - either itself or the General Skill its connected to. Whichever makes sense.
In our example, the Character wouldn't gain Rank 1 in Acrobatics, they'd gain Rank 4. As stated in the Rules, this would take 2 Sessions (4 divided by 2). They would then have Athletics Rank 3 and Acrobatics Rank 4.
This can sometimes lead to awkward choices for players down the line. What if they next choose to raise their Athletics? Well, then, 4 Sessions later, they'll have Rank 4 Athletics - but their Acrobatics hasn't gone up. They've chosen to simply raise their other skills to the level of their Acrobatics. But that's how life works sometimes. We don't evolve and progress in straight lines and we sometimes double back on our own learning. The choice to specialize can be a double edged blade.
Our second point (thanks for bringing it up, smilinirish) is to call out a few exceptions to this system. Namely, a few Specialized Skills that either confer specific benefits or have General Skill prerequisites. In the core rulebook (their might be others in the future), those Skills are:
- Specific named Ceremonies
- Anicha Blades
- Martial Arts
In summary, there are three 'types' of Skill overall:
- "Normal" Skills: These convey a general benefit and cover all Specialized Skills as a subset. Example: Farming
- "Gateway" Skills: These Skills meant to be taken no higher than Rank 1 as a General Skill as their point is to give access to other specific Specialized Skills. Example: Knowledge
- "Dual purpose" Skills: These have a general benefit as well as granting access to specific specialized skills that have other benefits and could almost be considered skills in their own right. Example: Computers