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02 June 2013 @ 08:13 pm
Dungeons & Design 5: Skills, Part 2  
I have more to say apparently, so combat will be the next post.

I've been reading Blue Rose, and the implementation of D&D therein (called True20) does probably 90% of what I'd want a D&D-like system to accomplish, which will probably color the rest of the posts I make on this subject. What's more, there's a product for it called Full Control, which breaks the whole thing down into a point-buy system and removes classes and levels completely. True20 doesn't have classes as such--it has three "roles," Warrior, Expert, and Adept, which are basically Fighty Guy, Skill Guy, and Magic Guy--but even the minor classes it has kind of rub me the wrong way. In any game in which skills play a large part of character capability, "guy who has more skills" should not be a viable archetype.

Anyway.

Attribute Bonuses and Skill Masteries
I think I'm going to go with attributes listed on a "-X" to "+X" scale instead of using the raw scores. The only reason to keep them is nostalgia at this point, and unless I want big 2nd Edition-style charts of differing modifiers for each value of the attributes--and if I did want that, I'd probably just run Myth and Magic, which is a cleaned-up and mechanically-unified 2nd Edition, or maybe Adventurer, Conquerer, King--then there's no point in having the raw scores.

To keep a simpler progression from skills, I thought of a gradient like so: Unskilled, +0, +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, Master, where Master lets one roll 3d10 and keep the top two. That makes it easier to figure out which is better--double axes of improvement is fine, but if the probabilities isn't obvious it'll just confuse people. On top of that, I can layer a featadvantage to gain a +3 bonus to one skill, making the maximum bonus for someone of humanoid size 3d10k2+13 (+5 skill, +5 stat, +3 advantage bonus). That's not super elegant, but not everything has to be a multiple of five, and the average for 3d10k2 is ~13.5, so that lets people hit a Difficulty of 25 at least 50% of the time. That's not bad.

Skill List
This is the idea I have for an exceedingly generic fantasy setting. I'd probably use this to run either Elder Scrolls or Dark Sun, which would need some changes, but here's the standard pseudo-sword-and-sorcery setting:
Natural Skills
  • Athletics (Con) - Covering running and sports and so on
  • Empathy (Per) - I like the name better than Sense Motive
  • Endurance (Con) - Keep going over long distances, or without food or water or sleep, resisting diseases, and so on.
  • Intimidate (Str or Cha)
  • Lie (Cha)
  • Might (Str) - Lifting things, breaking things, etc.
  • Notice (Per)
  • Persuasion (Cha)

Basic Skills
  • Acrobatics (Dex) - Jumping, climbing, tumbling, and so on.
  • Craft (various) - Not sure what to do here. I haven't found a TTRPG yet that didn't have a terrible crafting system.
  • Etiquette (Cha)
  • Focus (Wil) - Keeping concentration under duress, meditating, and so on.
  • Haggle (Cha)
  • Inspiration (Cha) - Leading groups.
  • Open Locks (Dex)
  • Perform (Dex or Cha) - Singing, Dancing, Playing instruments...
  • Pilot (Dex) - driving carts and boats and so on
  • Ride (Dex)
  • Stealth (Dex)
  • Subterfuge (Dex) - Card tricks, pickpocketing, escaping bonds.
  • Survival (Per) - includes setting traps
  • Tracking (Per)

Advanced Skills
  • Alchemy (Int)
  • Animal Training (Int)
  • Countermagic (Wil)
  • Enchanting (Wil) - This has the same problem as as craft
  • Heal (Int)
  • Lore (Int) - A bunch of subcategories here
  • Sorcery (Wil)
  • Witchsight (Per) - Seeing magical energy, detecting magic items or spirits, and so on.

That's just the preliminary list. I feel like I'm missing something, but nothing really springs to mind...

Coverage of Skills
I don't remember where I read it anymore, but I remembering someone saying that the list of skills in an RPG doesn't actually limit what the PCs can do, because the players can always try to do anything[1]. The skills just indicate the mechanics by which the PC interacts with the world, and a larger skill list reduces the competency of everyone in the world unless enough skill points are granted. By the same token, adding extra stuff later on the game's life cycle can do the same thing, because if there's all of a sudden a Trap-setting skill where there wasn't one before, suddenly all the people who have Survival can't use it to set traps anymore, or can only use it to catch animals put not people, or something similar. This isn't necessarily super relevant because I'm certainly not going to publish all this, but it is something to keep in mind.

[1]: This isn't always true. In Apocalypse World and derived games, all actions are codified as specific "Moves" that the players can do. That led to a problem in a game of Monsterhearts I was listening to where one of the players wanted to steal a car, but none of the Moves they had available really fit and there weren't traditional skills, so even though it was an action with the potential for drama (the perfect circumstances to roll in a * World game), the GM just let it happen rather than keep debating what to do.
 
 
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marianlhmarianlh on June 4th, 2013 05:18 am (UTC)
I'm a big fan of Blue Rose, but this is the first I've heard of Full Control. Awesome. Thanks for the tip-off!
dorchadasdorchadas on June 5th, 2013 12:35 am (UTC)
Yay! Glad to help!

If you're interested, I finished reading Blue Rose and wrote a review of it here. (^_^)