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Friday, July 29, 2011

Another view on Skills

Sometimes you can have too much time on your hands to think but never enough to do anything with it. I've been commuting 2 hours back and forth to work in Virginia the last 5 weeks and during that drive and sitting in traffic alot of great (in my mind) things have come out, but since I'm driving no real way to capture the details (something about the police around the Baltimore/DC frowns on out of state people doing things besides just driving, I dunno).

Anyways, everyone that knows me knows I have this love for the red-head stepchild d12. Using Onn's Ability Score adjustments of +/-2, you have more leeway for adjusting the results of a d12 then a d6 when making some kind of dungeoneering skill check. For those frowning now and about to think 'oldschool D&D' didn't have such things and this new school crap doesn't have a place in D&D or its clones, I'll simply say generally in the B/X and OD&D rules, most things had a flat 2-in-6 chance of success (with some Referees houseruling ability adjustments can affect this) and even Gary and Dave and other founding greats used ability checks and other systems to determine success of certain things considered 'skills'.

But enough of digression, if you're still reading you want me to get to the crunchy bits of the post. So I made Onn's 'Dungeoneering Skills' a d12 when I wrote the Core Rules. With the small modifiers ability scores have and the chances to do things (converted directly from the x-in-6 chance) it worked well as a flat system, but offers little room for growth for characters well-practiced (after levels and levels of doing them).

Early D&D and its clones and retro-games are all based around percentages, even if 'funky' dice are used. 2-in-6 = 33%, elves and their 4-in-6 chance to detect secret doors = 66%, heck even hobbits had a high percentage chance (depending on the version of the game, as high as 90%) to remain unseen outdoors. Since D&D-type games are class and level based, organic growth like a skills-based game dont work very well hand in hand normally. I've seen some houserules for combat and magic that severed the ties to class and level that looks very fun and dynamic.

One thing I thought up while I was driving back and forth was a percentage-based skills system. This is thoroughly untested (so far) but a short discussion with my home gaming group refined what was in my head to this:

1) Characters begin play with a base of 8% + the skill's relevant Ability Score.

Example: if a character has an Intelligence score of 13, his ability to Pick Locks would be 21% (8+13) at 1st level.
  • Races and classes that have any bonuses to skills would multiply the bonus by 4 and add the result to their base chance of success.
2) During the course of a game session, the players keep track of successful relevant uses of their skills (dictated by the Referee). At the end of the session, the player rolls a check for each skill he used, adding +1% for each relevant use to his chance of success, but subtracting each level attained. If the check is a success, the player adds +1% to his chance of success.

Example: Our lock picking character has 6 successful attempts under his belt the Referee allowed him to record. At the end of the session, he rolls a Lock Picking check against a 27% chance of success (base 21+6). If successful, his base chance rises from 21% to 22%.

3) When a character attains levels beyond 1st level, he gains (3+Int adj) x 5 percentage points at each level. The points can be distributed as the player sees fit, but no more than 5% can be added to a skill at each level.

Example: Our character with the 13 Intelligence has a +1 adjustment. On attaining 2nd level, he gains 20 points ((3+1)x5) to distribute among his skills. He decides lock picking has been a useful skill so he allocates 5% to it, raising it up from a 22% to a 27%.

Using percentages allows the Referee more latitude in assessing bonuses and penalties and allows for some more organic growth without breaking the bank, so to speak.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Shao Disciple Combat Options

Originally, Shao Disciples were granted access to the Fighting-man's Combat Options. In a further design to make them more than 'poor man fighters', they have been given their own list of combat options, some from the familiar Fighting-man Options and some unique for the class.

Disciple Combat Options (4th level): The character can select one of the Combat Options listed below (similar to the Fighting-man Combat Options). At 8th, 12th and 16th levels an additional option may be taken.

· Cleaving Strike - If you kill a melee opponent of 1 HD or more, you can make an immediate free attack on another opponent within your melee reach, but no more than once per round.

· Combat Defense - You can voluntarily take a penalty on you ‘to hit’ rolls up to the value of your Bonus to Hit (pg XX, to a maximum of -4) and gain this penalty as a bonus to armor class until you decide to end the defensive stance.

· Critical Strike - You quickly determine weaknesses you can see in your opponent. You can score a critical hit on a natural roll of ‘19’ (if you can hit your opponent) and ‘20’.

· Disarm - The character can attempt to remove his opponent’s weapon from his grasp. If the character makes a successful attack no damage is inflicted. The victim must make a Dodge saving throw with half the attacker’s level applied as a penalty or his weapon falls 1d10 ft distant.

· Deflect Magical Missiles (12th+ Level) - The character can us one of his Ki Strikes to enable his Deflect Missiles ability to deflect any ranged spell attack that requires a ‘to hit’ roll for 4 rounds. The saving throw also applies the spell’s level as a penalty.

· Eagle Claw – When fighting unarmed, you add your Wisdom adjustment to damage as well as Strength.

· Flying Kick - When fighting unarmed and charging, you deal an extra 1d6 points of damage with your unarmed attack.

· Grenadier - When using grenade-like weapons you lessen all range penalties by 2.

· Holding the Line - If an opponent charges and moves through your attack area, your free attack will halt their charge if it is successful and they fail a Toughness saving throw.

· Ki Blast - The character uses one of his Ki Strikes for the day to fire a blast of life energy with the same range as a sling. Damage inflicted is equal to unarmed strike dice.

· Kiai Shout – instead of attacking, you can focus your Ki once per encounter and make a war cry that will make 1d3 of your closest opponents flee for 1d8 rounds if they fail an Ego saving throw.

· Manyshot - You can make a bonus missile weapon attack each round by hurrying your reload at the expense of accuracy. Your regular attacks suffer a -2 penalty ‘to hit’ and the bonus attack suffers a -4.

· Melee Archer - When throwing or firing a missile weapon while in melee combat, the character does not generate a free attack from his melee opponent(s).

· Monkey Grip – You are trained in a unique grip that allows you to wield two-handed weapons (except pole-arms) as one-handed weapons in your primary hand. Attacking in this fashion carries a –2 penalty on all ‘to hit’ rolls made with the weapon.

· Mounted Archery - You are proficient in fighting from horseback, moving wagons or chariots with missile weapons and do not suffer penalties for unstable conditions.

· Mounted Combat - You are proficient in fighting from horseback, moving wagons or chariots with melee weapons other than the spear or lance and do not suffer penalties for unstable conditions.

· Pugilist - The character does +1 point of damage when striking with his bare hands or feet. He is considered wielding an allowed off-hand weapon and to have the Two-weapon Fighting ability while fighting unarmed.

· Sharp Shooting - When firing a missile weapon into melee combat, the character halves any chance to hit blocking melee combatants.

· Single Weapon Style - Fighting with a one-handed weapon and nothing in your off-hand, grants you a +1 bonus to Dodge saving throws and a -1[+1] bonus to your armor class.

· Skewering Strike (8th+ Level) - If attacking with a lance, pole-arm, spear or trident any critical hits you make also strikes the creature in the 2nd rank behind your foe for normal damage.

· Smash (12th+ Level) - If you only make a single melee attack in a round at a -4 penalty, you add half your Strength score to your damage.

· Spear Maneuvers - When fighting with a spear the character can reach the 2nd rank while fighting 1-handed. The character may set a spear or trident against a charging opponent and if the character hits (attack roll required) he inflicts double damage to the charging opponent.

· Wrestler - When using wrestling to attack, you gain a +2 bonus to your ‘to hit’ rolls.

· Zen Archery - The character applies wither his Dexterity or his Wisdom adjustment on ‘to hit’ rolls with missile weapons, whichever is greater.