Skills IRL

I realise I’m translating a virtual skills system into real life, but what’s the deal with skill levels and what they represent? I’m trying to sort them into RL categories.

What I have so far is:
Skill level 0 is unskilled - not completely incapable, but certainly not an expert. Your average person, in other words, assuming little training or experience. Problems here arise with your average person not knowing how to boil noodles, as a lot of super-simple cooking recipes are at cooking 1. Then again, I might be ignorant of how terrible some people can be.

Skill level 1 is vaguely skilled - you get to this level from reading magazines, so I’d assume this is having fairly cursory knowledge of the subject, whether from having a little experience or having read a little about it. For instance, marksmanship 1 is required to make a 9mm pipe rifle, implying that at marksmanship 1 your character roughly knows how a gun works. Oddly enough this is the level a bionic soldier’s skills start at, implying very basic training and a reliance on their bionics rather than skill.

Skill level 2 is the base for selections made during character selection. This is ‘competent’ - at cooking 2, for example, actual simple recipes start coming into the mix, and at mechanics 2 your character knows enough about cars to remove most parts, if not reinstall them properly. Unarmed combat 2 is where Brawling is learned automatically, implying your character knows enough about fighting to throw in a few dirty tricks and throw a good punch.

Skill level 3 is ‘good’ - this is the level where a skill starts picking up. It seems to represent a ‘hobby’ level of familiarity. Under The Hood, an informative guide about mechanical operations, brings you to this skill level and it is now that most parts can be installed and replaced. Cooking 3 brings in some more complex recipes - nothing especially dramatic, but actual meals other than boiled beans and rice become plausible. Also at Cooking 3, chemicals start becoming available. At level 3 tailoring, actual conventional clothes are easy to make, rather than crude approximations.

Skill level 4 is an average professional level of skill. A computer hacker starts with Computers 4 and has a good chance of hacking into most lower-level security systems. A professional tailor begins with Tailoring 4 and at this level more complex clothing is available for creation. At mechanics 4, a survivor can hook solar panels up to their car’s systems and replace engines, at the level of a commercial mechanic. Cooking 4 allows complex dishes like sashimi to be made (although we can assume they’re not expert sushi chefs at this level). More complex chemical compounds become available. A Police Sniper has rifles 4.

Skill level 5 is high-quality professional level. 5 cooking is where the cooking skill starts to focus on chemistry, and is when cooking books become chemistry books and folders. 5 unarmed combat is where most martial arts techniques have been learned (except one, which is learned at level 6). At this weapons level, a gun can have pretty much any valid attachment attached to it. Military-grade weapons can be attached to cars at this level of mechanics, such as heavy machine guns and grenade launchers.

Skill level 6 is specialist-level knowledge. Heavily-customised survivor armour is available at this tailoring level. Level 6 computing allows a very good chance of hacking most computers, including military/government ones. Level 6 in mechanics allows the installation of electrically-driven miniguns, advanced solar panels, and other rare components. Cooking begins to include more exotic chemistry. Most bionics are craftable at this level.

Skill level 7 is approaching expert knowledge. At this level of fabrication medieval weaponry is practical to forge. At this level, the survivor knows enough to produce many complex items from memory. Reading lower-level mutagen-production books is now possible, so the survivor is well-versed enough in science to understand the proto-science of mutagenic substances and supernatural phenomena.

Skill level 8 is a master of the skill by all means. Lower-level (the animal mutagens, not the medical/elf/etc. ones) mutagens are craftable at this level of cooking. Mechanics 8 allows the installation of multiple engines into a single vehicle. Fabrication 8 allows for the crafting of many fine-quality weapons. This trend continues for most skills. Hackers can now browse military databases like they’re a search engine, after having their arm broken. Martial artists can perform high kicks in unpowered power armour.

Skill levels 9 and 10 are beyond master level. The prototype mutagens, Japanese swords, and heavy railguns are craftable at this level. The survivor would arguably be one of the top experts on their subject in the world prior to the Cataclysm. At this level, a survivor stops using stop-thrusts to counter zombies and instead their rapier hand transforms into an Active Defense System capable of deterring tanks. Combat becomes a joke.

That’s basically it, if anyone with a hand in the skill system can clarify I’d be quite happy.

Personally, I think the starting skills of most professions represent the bare minimum a person of that profession could be expected to have, not necessarily their average value. So while a bionic soldier could potentially get by with only minimal combat training on the strength of his bionics alone, the bare minimum you could expect from a police sniper is a professional-level rifle skill.

In addition, the bonus skills from professions do not contribute to the increased cost of higher levels of skill, so initial skill point investment goes a LOT further for those with the right background. If an average person wanted to start off with a master-level 8 rifle skill on game start, it would cost them a massive 16 points, whereas getting to the same level with a police sniper only costs 4 points.