Fate of the Old Republic
Academics measures a character’s education, recall, and knowledge. Any knowledge that isn’t specific to another skill falls under Academics, with some overlap to be expected. Characters with high Academics include information brokers, professors, scientists, Jedi, and know-it-alls.
The main use of Academics is to answer a question. Questions covered by Academics include those of art, history, literature, sociology, or any of the sciences. You can ask the GM, “What do I know about this subject?” or “What does this mean?” Often, there will be no need to roll, especially if the subject is within your character’s specialty, but if the GM feels the information is something that should be hard to attain —such as a clue— then she may call for a roll against a difficulty she sets.
If your character succeeds, he receives the information. If he fails, he doesn’t, but he may still attempt to research the topic (see below)—or, perhaps more entertainingly, may stumble onto a false lead that gets him deeper into trouble.
Researching a topic is frequently a time-consuming and arduous task—exactly the sort of thing worth skimming over with a few quick dice rolls. It’s treated as an extension of the knowledge your character has— some questions he can answer off the top of his head; others he can answer because he knows what data sources to search.
As such, research is something that can happen when a character fails an Academics check. Provided the researcher is willing to spend time researching—and that the answer can be found—the only question is how long it’ll take and how good an information source he has access to.
Academic research requires a data source. The quality of the source of information determines the hardest possible question that can be answered within it—so a question of Good (+ 3) difficulty requires a Good (+ 3) data source or better. If a character is attempting to answer a question using a data source that’s not equal to answering it, the GM should be up-front about its shortcomings.
Most ships, space stations, and private individuals have a Mediocre (+ 0), Average (+ 1), or Fair (+ 2) data bank. Small corporations or governments often have Good (+ 3) data sources while larger institutions may have Great (+ 4) ones. Superb (+ 5) and better data sources are few and far between. The Jedi Archives on Coruscant has a Legendary (+ 8) collection of data. Characters may even own data of their own.
Academics can be used to perform scientific research as well, provided there’s time and equipment. A scientist looking to solve a problem should figure out what question he’s trying to answer, like “What killed this man?” or “What is this object composed of?” The GM calls for a roll to see if the character can answer the question. This requires a lab of some sort, and it’s possible that some questions can’t be answered without the right equipment. In the end, this functions the same as performing research (see above).
For the core player character species, the listed aspects should be considered common knowledge and available to a player after an Average (+ 1) Academics roll. If a new species is encountered, an Academics roll can reveal the aspects normally shared by that species. The rarity of the species determines the difficulty of such a roll; a good baseline starts at a difficulty of Fair (+ 2) for a species that isn’t quite as common as the core species, and moves up the ladder from there for progressively more obscure species.
Research, as described above, is an excellent avenue for assessing a person, item, or location, provided your character has enough time and access to a data source with the proper information. You could look up blueprints, public records, legal history, or all manner of useful facts regarding your target. As always, these facts must be within the field of Academics and the GM has a right to veto them.
The GM sets the difficulty for you to roll against. If successful, your character discovers some useful aspect; if not, the data is incorrect or outdated and your character is mistaken. Like most Academics rolls, the GM can decide not to share the difficulty, so your character may not know if he succeeded. If the academic is wrong, there’s no penalty, but there may be complications—at her option, the GM can place a temporary Mistaken aspect on the academic, compelling it to represent the fall-out (and netting the mistaken academic a fate point!).
You can use your character’s knowledge to declare facts, filling in minor details the GM hasn’t mentioned. These facts must be within the field of Academics, and the GM has the right to veto them. You make a declaration and roll Academics against a difficulty the GM sets.
If successful, the fact is true; if not, your character is mistaken. Consequences of a mistaken declaration are the same as failed assessment, above.
Academics isn’t an attack skill. It can rarely be used to cause stress to an opponent, unless the conflict is knowledge related, like a spelling bee or some other contest of knowledge. Academics could conceivably be used to attack in a legal trial by presenting facts contradicting the opposing counsel’s theory, for example. In this case, your character is using Academics to marshal his knowledge to overwhelm or dismay his opponent.
Academics can only be used as a defense if another character is using the Academics skill to attack. Your character could, in such a situation, use his own knowledge to present facts that refute his opponent and negate the attempted attack.
Your character may speak a number of additional languages based on his Academics score. Each step of Academics above Mediocre (+ 0) gives your character knowledge of one additional language—one at Average (+ 1), two at Fair (+ 2), and so on. You don’t need to choose the languages when your character is created; instead, you can simply choose languages in the course of play, as is convenient.