This was inspired by a post on Facebook here about removing the Persuasion skill and just using the Spirit attribute. While personally I would not do this, I also don’t see anything in particular wrong with it, but it does have greater implications than it might seem on the surface.
The first implication of either making this change or as the subject of this post suggests using the Guts skill instead of the Spirit attribute is that it narrows the range of values. Yes part of that narrowing is reducing the number of low values. I would expect that most characters would have a d6 in Spirit instead of potentially a d4-2 for unskilled characters or even just a d4 for barely skilled, but it also lowers the high value d10 and d12 skills. This is because Spirit is an attribute and instead of being able to be raised once per advance, it can only be raised once per rank, and this is a huge cost. I mean sure you can spend all of your starting attribute points on Spirit and get it up to a d12 (yes with one left over), but then you have another attribute as a d6 and everything else as a d4 and are likely to be useless in almost all other situations.
If on the other hand you try to round out your attributes maybe making Spirit a d8 and the rest a d4 or d6, you are now looking at needing to hit Seasoned rank to get your Spirit up to a d12. And while this is not awful, there is a large opportunity cost involved in this. And this is where the second implication comes in.
The opportunity cost for raising an attribute is much higher than that of raising any skill or even purchasing an edge (the exception being the Power Points edge).
The final implication that I will bring up which admittedly is of less importance to me is character distinctiveness. Savage Worlds already pushes in my opinion the edge of too little character differentiation. Removing skills that are important to the setting just makes it that much harder to make meaningful differences between two characters. If both of these skills are removed, suddenly all brave characters are also equally persuasive and recover from shocks as quickly instead of one being brave and the other being persuasive.
Now I don’t think that either the Guts or Persuasion skills need to be in every setting, but if they are important to the setting, then they really do seem to need to be skills and not just based on an attribute.
Anyway just some thoughts on skill removal. At this point I will probably add the Guts skill back in for any setting that has any horror elements to it that doesn’t already have it like Deadlands Noir and East Texas University.