Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Trolls' Quest - Ringin' Your Skill Bells

I’ve mentioned before that I’m working on a fantasy RPG. That project kinda went into hibernation while I toyed around with True20. I still like that game a lot, but Trollwife has declared certain elements of it not to her liking. And if Trollwife ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

So, back to the drawing-board for us. I’m sussing out the details of a basic mechanic I’m rather proud of. I’m assuming a classless system with skills. (I’m going classless because most of our gaming is one-on-one, so niche-protection isn’t an issue.)

When you want to use a skill, and the outcome is uncertain, you roll against a table that looks something like this:

Now, if you’re an utter neophyte, with no real training to speak of, you roll a d20 on this table and hope you get lucky. If you’ve had some training (maybe at the level of an apprentice, for instance) you roll 2d10. Those with more skill (journeyman-level, to continue with our analogy) get to roll 3d6. Finally, those who have mastered this skill roll 4d4.

Thanks to the wonders of the bell curve, the more dice you roll, the more likely your results are to cluster at the middle of the table. Thus, the more skilled you are, the more dependable your results will be.

Of course, if that were the end of the story, as you can see, a master craftsman could never fail. And, generally speaking, that’s fine with me. A master at his craft shouldn’t fail under normal circumstances. Unusual circumstances, however, are another matter.

Adverse circumstances force you to work at less than your peak ability. Working with difficult or unusual materials, for instance, might lower your skill ranking by 1. Working without the proper tools might reduce it by 2. Trying to work based on instructions written in a language you don’t understand to recreate a device you’ve never seen before might reduce your skill ranking by 5 or more, and these reductions would be cumulative!

However, you can get help, as well. Each additional helper might add their skill ranking to yours. Exceptionally high-quality tools or materials might increase your ranking by 1 or 2. So your circumstances might move your ranking for any particular task up or down. It can never lower it below rolling a d20, or above rolling 4d4 (though 5d3 is a possibility).

So that’s what I’m playing with so far. Next time I discuss this, it’ll be to mention stats and maybe character creation and advancement.


Eric said...

Hey, I came across your blog a few weeks ago and I love it.

The system you got here seems awesome , care if I use it for my Homebrew campaign?

trollsmyth said...

Feel free. Let me know how it works out.

- Brian

trollsmyth said...

Oh, one other thing, Eric: do you remember how you found me? I'm horribly curious how people come across the blog.

Thanks again for the kind words. :)

Badelaire said...

Here's another way to consider using this mechanic...

Roll 1d20 (or 2d10 if you want a bell curve). For each "rank" or whatever you have in the skill, you get to adjust the result one "step" or whatever on the chart in whichever direction you want. So if you have a Rank of 2 and you roll at 15 (neutral), you can move up two steps on the chart and achieve an OK level of success.

This would avoid needing multiple different die types, but I dunno if using multiple different die types is something you're aiming at...

Regardless, I think it's a cool mechanic - run with it dude!

trollsmyth said...

Yep, I'm kinda groovin' on the whole using different dice and letting the different bell curves shift the probabilities.

Still, I'm already thinking of using something like your shifting idea in combat. Maybe. That's still being beaten on.

- Brian

Eric said...

I want to say it was through folks at Dragonsfoot. But I'm gonna stick with the Paizo Forums. Could be wrong though, LOL.

trollsmyth said...

Thanks, Eric.

I think the best way to promote a blog is to be active on some boards. Well, that and having Jeff add you to his blog-roll.

And a post entitled "Succubus Porn" doesn't hurt, either. ;)

- Brian