Science Skill

Just a thought; I’ve long been ill at ease with cooking being the skill used for chemistry and similar things. But I couldn’t quite see the value in a sole chemistry skill. Then it occurred to me: what about a generic Science skill? This would encompass the creation of chemical compounds such as explosives (very simple explosives like the pipe bomb could remain under fabrication), acids (for weapons and perhaps opening locks), gunpowder (at a low level), zombie musk, napalm (for better firebombs and fuel for flame weapons), and using chemicals and chemistry equipment to make drugs such as aspirin, meth, cocaine, etc, from scratch.

Edit: Okay, so I just noticed that there is a thread below suggesting that it was decided not to separate the cooking from chemistry recipes. I can’t say I agree with that, but I feel I should acknowledge that it’s already been talked about.

On the subject of cooking it might not be useful at higher levels right now, but when tool qualities finally get implemented, food qualities could as well, giving increasing mood bonuses for food cooked with higher cooking skill (and less chance of partial and total recipe failures)

there are enough parallels between them that while it remains a good idea on its own, I figure it will be eclipsed by the revamp to the preexisting “cooking”

I think that got cancelled, or at least put on hold. That said, if a ‘Science’ skill got implemented that mostly served as a secondary requisite for a bunch of recipes, that would make ‘Cooking’ a more reasonable source of homemade drugs, and it would probably work better than a split cooking skill.

Pretty much this. For the moment it’s been determined that “cooking” and “chemistry” both remain as a single skill rather than two separate ones, but I am trying to keep the idea open of a potential split in the future as more content is added to the both of them. It’s a rather up-in-the-air decision, as while the knowledge of cooking vs. chemistry are very different, the actual technical skills used in the two of them are very similar.

If I were to take an accomplished chef and give him a chemical formula, shoved him into a lab and said ‘use this formula and make some aspirin’ he would undoubtedly fail. You would more or less need to train him to understand the formula, understand the interactions, understand the tools both measurement and for the purpose of interactions, and crucially, understand the materials he is working with so he doesn’t somehow injure himself. What the skill implies right now is that every chemist is also a professional chef, which is silly. Most chemists I have met could hardly feed themselves.

There are certainly some superficial and conceptual overlaps, but I would not go so far as to say that the technical skills used in the two subjects are ‘very similar.’ I’ve only done first year university level chemistry and I think that’s a stretch.

Science could be used as primary skill for a number of crafting recipes (primarily chemistry-related recipes) and possibly as a secondary skill for the creation of primitive projectile weapons (physics), it could help in farming (biology), and more complex first aid tasks. It could even improve reading times for complex books in other fields, as anyone who has done a science degree knows that one major skill you must learn is how to digest and retain often dense, highly technical information. I think there is enough potential for a skill based around generic science knowledge/technical expertise to warrant it as a separate skill.

I think cooking can potentially stand alone as a skill. I don’t really see a problem with it being - for the time being - not very useful at higher levels, because ultimately people need to eat and cooking as a skill is going to get used regardless.

Sure, if you were to just hand him a chemical formula and say “go” then he’d fail; he lacks the knowledge required to read it and understand what it means. If, on the other hand, you gave him a recipe that looks like the one below and a bunch of well-labeled containers:


  1. In a 500mL glass container, add 20 g of sylicylic acid, 50 mL of acetic anhydride and 50 drops of 85% phosphoric acid
  2. Place glass container in a hot water bath for 10 minutes; stir if needed to fully dissolve the mixture
  3. Slowly add 20 mL of distilled water
  4. Wait one minute and remove from bath. Add 200 mL of distilled water and allow to cool.
  5. After cooled place mixture in an ice bath. Chill 50-100 mL of distilled water in a separate container.
  6. Filter mixture repeatedly with filter paper, separating out the crystals. Once filtered rinse crystals with the previously chilled water.
  7. Allow crystals to air dry.
    At that point I’m fairly certain that just about any chef in the world could make some aspirin (though they might not always follow all of the safety rules and regulations). The difference between the two is mostly a matter of terminology and the formating of the recipe, not of the actual technical skills required.

He’d almost certainly mess it up at the filtration stage. Having actually done this experiment in first year chemistry, and actually made aspirin, ‘filter mixture repeatedly with filter paper’ is not actually descriptive enough to get through the process without screwing it up.

And I’ve also seen people mess up this experiment with more detailed instructions, assistance, and lectures. So no, I’m not sure that a chef would have an easy time with those instructions.

That said, you don’t need to be a chef or a chemist to follow specific step by step instructions any more than you need to be a chef or a chemist in order to follow a recipe to make bread. That’s sort of the point.

The ability to follow instructions isn’t a professional skill, it’s a matter of intellect. It is the very minimal requirement for doing anything. If we are going to use that as a qualifier for ‘basically the same skills’ then you can add in electronics(follow the instructions), fabrication(follow the instructions), trapping(follow the instructions), first aid (follow the instructions), and pretty much every ‘craft’ ability in the game.

You can reduce any professional skill down to a set of detailed instructions that anyone can follow given they have the right tools and ingredients. You can program a robot to perform an experiment repeatedly with precision greater than what any human could achieve. This doesn’t mean that the robot is a skilled chemist.

This is why teenagers can make elaborate drugs with some chemistry equipment and a recipe they downloaded off of the internet. This doesn’t make them skilled chemists or skilled chefs. A chef is no better at following complex chemistry instructions than a teenager is. There is basically no connection between cooking skill and chemistry skill beyond some superficial, conceptual considerations.

Checking into your filtration counter I find that there are in fact vacuum coffee-pots that operate on the exact type of filtration described in synthesising aspirin. Not only is cooking using the same method of filtration (which I’m sure has some sort of fancy cooking term somewhere) but it’s been using it for over 50 years. The only difference between the two is that with coffee the strained mixture is what you want, and with aspirin the “grounds” are what you want.

Skills are based on the real world things that are one step up from the absolute basics of instructions. For example in the “Recipe” in my previous post the physical skills used are “mixing”, “hot bathing”, “ice bathing”, “filtering”, and “rinsing”. These are all skills used in the cooking/chemistry realms, and are not skills used in the crafting of traps, electronic components, or the application of bandages to a wound. The idea should be that if you reduce a recipe down to a set of instructions about as complex as my previous post the ability to do the various special tasks are what the skill is.

Some tasks for given skills:
Electronics: “Soldering”, “crimping”, "stripping (wires)"
Trapping: "knot-tying"
First aid: “bandaging”, "suturing"
Mechanics: “welding”, “tightening”

Fabrication: This one is a bit of a “catch all” and doesn’t really follow the same rules. The idea is that “fabrication” contains everything that either doesn’t fall under any skills or is used in several of them, such as “cutting”.

I want you to actually try to follow those instructions in a lab without any additional information/instruction and see what the result is. No experiment is as straight forward as those instructions imply, and this is a first year experiment. You are really, really reaching here.

Nothing in those instructions has anything to do with cooking at all. ‘Mixing’ isn’t a skill. ‘hot bathing’ and ‘ice bathing’ are not skills. ‘Filtering’ isn’t a skill. These are all simple processes. Given adequate step-by-step instructions you can perform any procedural task without any training whatsoever.

The only skills that don’t follow that general rule of thumb are muscle-memory skills, which require a great deal of practice and training. I cannot give you a set of instructions on how to do a backflip. Or how to put a golfball on the green from 300 yards. I can, however, give you a set of instructions on how to build a shed with reasonable confidence that if you are determined and the instructions detailed enough, you will figure it out despite a lack of any carpentry training.

Professional skill in the real world represents knowledge for the most part. Yes a carpenter will hammer a nail faster than someone with no carpentry experience, but that isn’t really the point.

Skill - in this context - is knowledge. Being a carpenter isn’t about hammering nails. Being a chemist isn’t about stirring beakers. Being a mechanic isn’t about turning a wrench. Being an electrician isn’t about soldering wires. Being a chef isn’t about kneading dough. Being a blacksmith isn’t about hammering metal. These are menial tasks that anyone can do with a minimum of explanation. Being able to hammer a nail doesn’t qualify you to build a shed from scratch. Being a chef doesn’t qualify you to use imperfect materials and ingredients in order to create a drug. Unless someone has already done the heavy lifting for you and gives you step by step instructions. The person who wrote those instructions is a chemist. The person following them? Not necessarily. Because following rote instructions is not skill. A chemist can plan an experiment. A chef cannot. A chef can prepare a unique meal that dazzles the tastebuds. A chemist cannot.

Being skilled in a profession is about knowing your craft, understanding it, being able to fill in gaps in the information with your own knowledge, using your knowledge to creatively solve complex problems.

That is skill. And that is why it is absurd to me that we are seriously suggesting that chefs and chemists are ‘basically the same’ just because they both mix ‘ingredients’ and heat them up. It’s just rationalizing a point of convenience.

Just gonna throw out that if I wanted Hardcore Realism, I’d play Unreal World or something.

Or invest in another degree IRL, a BS in biology or something…I do need remedial Chem classes. But I’m content with the system as is.

How is having a different skill to separate out the already existing chemistry crafting recipes… hardcore realism?

You do realize that these recipes are already in the game, right?

It’s just odd that even basic chemistry stuff is locked at the top of the cooking skill. It’d make more sense if science was a different skill and needed to be raised independent of cooking.

I do. I kinda like having my cooking actually provide a useful long-term result: ability to make Mutagen.

I’m not particularly worried about chemistry being stuck in cooking. Works fine for me.

Your cooking already provides a useful and long term result. It’s called food.

Yeah, most chefs are actually pretty well off financially.

You don’t need high levels of cooking skill to take advantage of that. You don’t even need any level of cooking skills with the right tools and some survival skills.

What probably needs to happen re: cooking is for many of the ‘ingredients’ and uncooked things that are in the world, need to be given negative morale modifiers.

Right now you can get a morale bonus by devouring a jar of mayonaise.

Why cook.

Cooking should be required to make the most of the food that is in the environment. Right now it’s not, really.

Food should have qualities that influence the morale bonus you get from them - a good cook can do more with a slab of meat than some novice with a stick and a campfire. Burnt --> Overcooked --> Medium --> Rare --> Raw. A cook should be able to pepper and salt steaks. Etc etc. There’s just an enormous amount of stuff that could be done with cooking. It’s just that it feels like Skyrim at the moment where there’s enormous amounts of food available because you can eat damn near anything and love it. When most of this stuff would be unpleasant to consume outside of a recipe of some sort.

The point is, you don’t need chemistry stuff to be high level cooking just to make cooking worthwhile as a skill. That’s not a good reason. There’s no reason cooking shouldn’t be a valuable skill on its own, and I think that’s more likely to happen if chemistry is removed from cooking.

Plus, I just think that Science as a skill could contain a lot more than chemistry recipes.

A lot of comestables having a positive fun value despite being pretty subjectively unpleasant on their own is a good point. We should take a look at this. Maybe it was kinda justified in the past, but we have a huge amount of comestables now, and if nothing else some reward for eating something other than cooked meat would be good.

Personally I’m on the side of splitting the two. I don’t particularly care if cooking doesn’t have “high level outputs”, frankly it’s the cataclysm, what need or opportunity do you have of performing difficult cooking tasks like baking a cake, making a crem brulee, making fruit caviar (no wait, that’s chemistry, or is it?)? There’s plenty of potential payoff for high cooking skill if we just drop in a quality stat that adjusts the fun output of the food. Until we have the quality score, I’d be perfectly fine for any progress past lvl X (whatever the highest recipe requires) to be “wasted”, that’s what the skill advancement toggle is for.

My rationale isn’t that they aren’t the same operations, I think they are, but the fact that there is a big enough disconnect in how cooking and chemistry skills are presented (including in any cooking or chemistry books you can find, any NPC teachers you’ll find, and anything you remember from pre-cataclysm) is plenty of reason to convince me that they should be seperate. The merger made sense when we didn’t have many recipes of one kind or the other, but at this point we have quite a lot of both. If there are individual recipes that call for both, e.g. molecular gastronomy (skill chemistry, but requires cooking levels too), the recipe system can handle that just fine now.

At the same time, that’s my opinion, and I don’t think it’s a really critical issue, so I just want to let it percolate for a bit at the status quo and see what we end up with.

Another point about cooking not having high level recipes, neither does construction at the moment, but construction is its own skill.

Cooking should be adjusted so the lower level recipes produce relatively little nutrition, low morale bonuses, and a high chance of failures with lower nutrition and negative morale (burnt food) or chance of poisoning (undercooked food). Higher level recipes should do the opposite. A “quality” stat would definitely help it make more sense.

The difference is that construction potentially produces a variety of interesting results.

Cooking gives you a bit more morale, for a good deal of effort, making learning other more useful skills easier? And it does it by… taking up focus that could be going to other more useful skills. Without chemistry, it never does anything particularly interesting other than make food last a bit longer. Which honestly is more of a chemistry task than a cooking task anyway! (Things like preservation treatments of various sorts)

Honestly, if we were really going to split them out, I still wouldn’t bother making cooking a skill, I’d probably just prefer unskilled recipes related to cooking meals. At that point, cooking honestly doesn’t matter any more - it doesn’t do anything interesting, it doesn’t go anywhere interesting, it’s got nothing going for it except using up focus better spent elsewhere.

Investing in skills that make it easier to invest in other skills is not a new concept nor a bad one. You might see it as a waste but I see it as a valuable part of managing time and resources in the game. Part of carving out a life in Cataclysm is deciding whether to get your kicks with drugs and booze to keep yourself sane and able to make progress, or by trying to eek out some sense of normalcy through cooking. Both come with their costs. Drugs and booze are easy morale/focus but also lead to addiction and withdrawals that can undo the progress you made. Cooking costs focus but is stable and safe.

I just don’t think that food and cooking are balanced right now. As I said, too many things will give you morale bonuses without cooking them or including them in a recipe. Many of these things should be neutral (raw nutrition) or be unpleasant on their own. By making the choice of not cooking you should be penalized far more than you are. You can get by just fine without a single point in cooking and not suffer much in terms of morale. I think that needs to change. Cooking should be about making the most out of the stuff you have available (and keeping you cheerful) and occasionally being able to make a complex item that gives you a sizable boost to morale and focus.

Right now even the big recipes don’t seem to be that much better than eating things raw. Recipes should give back more than they cost. Not enough recipes come with enough portions to justify the effort of collecting the ingredients. Some things give huge nutrition boosts in one sitting but then it’s gone. I’d rather see those recipes give you multiple portions that can be eaten and/or saved for later. I don’t know how many times I’ve spent a lot of effort on something and gotten the old ‘You can’t finish it all’ message. And then the food is gone. Not exactly a great investment.

Cooking feels useless because of the state it is in. Not because it can’t be useful. And justifying locking chemistry behind a cooking skill just to make cooking more valuable is just adding hoops to jump through. It is making cooking seem valuable without actually making it valuable.

Anyway. I have some ideas about how to change cooking and how food is handled (stopping short of a nutrition system) that I might post in a new thread.