I firmly believe that if we didn’t have a system which allowed us all to read and write that many of us (and in fact for many people around the world currently) the time would be spent doing other things and learning skills that we don’t learn sitting in a class room from the age of 5 till 18. [/quote]
I could read and write by the time I was 8 (maybe 9). I could ride a bike by the time I was 7. What could I have learned by those ages that would warrant me getting another skill. I didn’t spend my whole time learning, I probably spent a lot of it playing. It’s kind of amazing how fast you can pick this up, of course if you are not exposed to it you won’t.
I don’t think we learn to read and write until we are 18. In fact most of secondary school is learning other stuff like complex maths, science, art, sport.
It’s not that I’m against illiteracy, but a literate person should not be less skilled than an illiterate one. A lazy person should be less skilled than a non-lazy person.
I just think the system is too light at the moment to introduce a tangible advantage for illiteracy. I mean it’s probably fair to assume that for the most part the characters literacy skills are pretty minimal, but reading road signs etc… If you ave Tech and Science or whatever you are probably more literate than most, if you are a savage you might be less.
I had an interesting discussion with some people at my D&D game tonight regarding this. One of the cooler things that came up was the idea that in a possible future we will become less literate because of our reliance on video and audio as learning tools. We could become an aural tradition again. This could be cool to explore for Arcs where Tech might have survived but data takes up much less space than paper.
Additionally if you look at 1 of primary sources for this game - Fallout - which is 50 years after the bomb, the population might be full of hicks but for the most part they can read and write. It’s only 150 or so years after. It’s not all small farmlets struggling to survive. It’s savage tribes, makeshift kingdoms, militia ruled states, Arcs with small or long reach.
The thing against reading and writing is really the availability of paper, the use of printing presses, stuff like that. But if there are couriers then there are news. Probably mail. It’s not likely to all be word of mouth.
And to be more positive rather than negative about looking at the skill list there isn’t a lot of what would I have learned if I didn’t spend the time learning to read and write. The skills are pretty much smithing, healing, fighting and science. Survival is about 4 or 5 things bundled into 1. I would buy that someone learned all 5 skills of Survival rather than reading and writing, while the person who learned to read and write might have only got fishing, hunting, building a fire and no tracking. Herb lore would be a bit up in the air and it’s more the providence of First Aid anyway. Which I think is the problem. The simple system is cool. It’s simple. The rest should just be roleplaying.
Also Idiot FWIW Engineering would be a hugely useful skill, not useless at all. Building dams, building bridges for perilous rivers to trade with another town because they have X and you have Y, building houses so they don’t fall over, building retaining walls.