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alternative skill check rule


Killing Time

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I've always been a bit unhappy with the way that STR, DEX and other attributes affect skills- having a minimal impact on starting % but typically that's it. While you can have a genius scientist who is far ahead of the field (Dr House, for example) the same level of skill can be attained by someone with average intelligence (Dr Bedsit??) and a relatively small number of additional development points.

My solution is to replicate the rule used for combat: after a successful roll for skill use an 'effect' dice is rolled and modified by the attribute. I'll use a 1D6 roll for the effect dice here. So Dr House gets to add his genius level bonus of +5 to the 1D6 effect dice after making a successful Medicine skill use, while Dr Bedsit can only add +1 for his slightly above average intelligence. If the target in an extended series of skill tests is to get 10 'effect' points then Dr House is going to make this in a couple of rolls and could even get there in the first successful skill check, while Dr Bedsit could require several skill checks to make it. If each skill check represents a day of testing and the patient worsens each day then Dr House will diagnose the relatively quickly, while Dr Bedsit may take so long that the patient dies before he makes the diagnosis.

The same mechanism can work for extended tests when climbing a mountain or running a race. Each roll should be described in dramatic terms ('you run into a crowded market place and have to weave through the stalls') rather than a series of tests to avoid it being a roll-playing rather than role-playing exercise but no difference there from current practice.

WDYT?

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This is already covered (and quite tested) with Conflict/Resolution points in the Revolution D100 and M-Space (a Mythras expansion) rulesets. In this case, the advantage is not in having a bonus to the 1d6 damage you inflict, but in having more "hit points" with which to endure damage. In Rd100, having twice your opponent's characteristic points after one exchange allows you to call a "quick victory". This means that Dr. House, with INT 18, can easily one-shot Dr. Morass's INT 11 (he needs bring him down to 9, which means any result but 1 on 1d6 is a quick victory for Dr. House). On the opposite, Dr. Morass needs several victorious rolls to have any chance of outsmarting Dr. House.

Revolution D100 has a free-to-download SRD that you can peruse at no cost. The relevant chapter is Chapter 3. Check the specific forum for Rd100 in the lower part of the forum list, or just download it here.

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I do not see any problem in not rolling the challenge rating if you prefer not to - it is there mainly to use the same rules when you need to overcome a generic obstacle and when you face an opponent who has a skill he can use to actively oppose you (ex. Search vs. Hide or Persuade vs. Persuade), but if you prefer unopposed rolls just go for them - the procedure is just going to last longer for skills lower than 100%.

What I was pointing out is not that you "have" to use m-space or rd100 as they are. It is that what you are proposing is by no means "uncharted territory", but a variant approach on something that has been explored in the last 12-18 months or so. If you restart from scratch, not capitalising on the experience described in various examples that Clarence, Zit, me and others have posted here, you are probably going to have a harder time than you could possibly need :)

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That in my opinion it should, in fact, work, I have already told you by saying "it is an alternate approach to what we have been testing for months".

That there might be problems you have already guessed by yourself:

Quote

Each roll should be described in dramatic terms ('you run into a crowded market place and have to weave through the stalls') rather than a series of tests to avoid it being a roll-playing rather than role-playing exercise but no difference there from current practice.

The point is that the system should "push" as much as possible in the direction of having each single application of a skill accompanied by a meaningful description of what the players or the opposition are up to.

Also, it is rather important to calibrate the maths so that you do not make more than 3-4 rolls per challenge. It becomes boring after that limit. This means that there should never be a round in which no points are scored: you succeed, you score; you miss, the opposition scores. This is the reason why there should always be at least two sides and two pools, otherwise you can theoretically fail 10 times in a row and still be able to win the challenge.

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13 hours ago, RosenMcStern said:

it is rather important to calibrate the maths so that you do not make more than 3-4 rolls per challenge

Agreed - One of the problems with the one sided challenge is that the players could keep on failing the skill check so it takes loads of rolls to complete. There should always be a cost to this - failure to make progress while mountain climbing can mean HP damage from exposure or delays to a message getting through.  so I disagree with that the opposition needs to score successes to make this a dramatic situation.

 I've been playing with the idea of having a challenge simply have a beginning, middle and end, with a skill check at each of these stages. Rather than have a goal/target number of points that the character needs to amass this could mean that there are levels of success - lots of points+ outstanding success (patient is successfully treated, mountain is climbed in record time), 0 points earned = resounding failure (patient dies, climb is abandoned). This does mean more work in identifying different bands though...

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Thinking about it, if we're using 3 rolls (for beginning, middle and end) then the average for 3D6 is 10.5 so for an average task the requirement would be to accrue 10 points to gain a successful result (climbing the mountain, identifying the disease). If you accrue over 15 points then the result is a spectacular success (you identify a particularly effective way of treating an illness, set a new route up a mountain that gets named after you).

If the character only accrues 5-9 points then the result is a failure (possibly using the fail forward result if the GM is feeling generous); while a 4 or less is going to be abject failure.

including the attribute modifier in this means that a genius level character (INT 18, +3 modifier) will succeed with ease on any task where their skill level is high enough to succeed on the 3 skill rolls. Someone with a -3 attribute penalty would not be able to complete the challenge which might be a bit harsh... so maybe the pass level should be 9, or there be an option for critical successes yielding a +1D6 bonus.

My concern with this approach is that it a further abstraction from the story - possibly this is because we don't use a beginning, middle and end approach to combat and my original aim was to try to use the same approach in both combat and skill challenge situations.

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In combat, you exactly have the situation where both sides roll and decrease the opponent's hit points. This principle has been expended to all conflicts in revolution d100.Notr that trying to reach a given level of points is the same as trying to decrease an opposing points pool.  

Another good thing in the rd100 solution is that you can make a difference between a short but hard climb or a long and not so hard one, both being difficult  for different reasons. Of course you can handel it with penalty/bonus and different target points with your system.

A last good point in rd100 is that it tells when to stop rolling dices. At a given point, when no more resource is available, you get the outcome in a not arbitrary way. The higher your ressource (characteristic), the more chances you have to roll and to reach your goal: the pace is fixed (1d6) but the nr of rolls vary. With your 3-stage system, the nr of rolls is fixed (3) but the pace varies (1d6 + bonus). Statistically, it is very similar I think.

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 12/29/2016 at 5:20 AM, Killing Time said:

I've always been a bit unhappy with the way that STR, DEX and other attributes affect skills- having a minimal impact on starting % but typically that's it. While you can have a genius scientist who is far ahead of the field (Dr House, for example) the same level of skill can be attained by someone with average intelligence (Dr Bedsit??) and a relatively small number of additional development points.

Well, back in RQ3 you added the appropriate Category Modifiers to skill improvement rolls. That gave attributes a much bigger impact on skill scores as higher attributes led to faster improvement. It was also necessary to have a positive category modifier  in order to raise a skill above 100%. This really made attributes important for Stealth skills and Knowledge skills. 

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Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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18 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Well, back in RQ3 you added the appropriate Category Modifiers to skill improvement rolls. That gave attributes a much bigger impact on skill scores as higher attributes led to faster improvement. It was also necessary to have a positive category modifier  in order to raise a skill above 100%. This really made attributes important for Stealth skills and Knowledge skills. 

Yeah I would be happy if this is continued in the next edition of RQ

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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18 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Well, back in RQ3 you added the appropriate Category Modifiers to skill improvement rolls. That gave attributes a much bigger impact on skill scores as higher attributes led to faster improvement. It was also necessary to have a positive category modifier  in order to raise a skill above 100%. This really made attributes important for Stealth skills and Knowledge skills. 

Yeah I would be happy if this is continued in the next edition of RQ

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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3 hours ago, Mankcam said:

Yeah I would be happy if this is continued in the next edition of RQ

Me too, but I doubt it. Since the new RQ is falling back heavily on RQ2, I suspect we will get the old experience modifier based off of INT. 

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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That would be a shame, as the Skill Cat Modifiers played little ongoing role in RQ2, yet they seemed to have more purpose in RQ3 by assisting your Skill Checks.

I thought that this rule, along with the Dodge skill replacing the Defence Modifier, were the two main game mechanics improvements of RQ3. 

It would be a shame for either of those not to make the final cut for the next edition of RQ.

Edited by Mankcam

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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Offhand, I think I *DIS*like the RQ3 XP-bonus modifiers.

If they're big enough to be noticeable, they risk becoming overwhelming by the time this character is approaching Rune level.

I'm OK with the Modifier just applying to new new skills, and not having an ongoing "make every improvement better" effect.

OTOH, I dislike having INT as the master-trait that helps all improvement.  Sometimes a high INT actually interferes with learning some skills (particularly physical ones).  I recall back with my very 1st character, thinking that some skills should probably be better-learned through other traits than INT (e.g. "feel your way" to better social skills with CHA, etc...)

 

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3 hours ago, g33k said:

Offhand, I think I *DIS*like the RQ3 XP-bonus modifiers.

If they're big enough to be noticeable, they risk becoming overwhelming by the time this character is approaching Rune level.

I'm OK with the Modifier just applying to new new skills, and not having an ongoing "make every improvement better" effect.

OTOH, I dislike having INT as the master-trait that helps all improvement.  Sometimes a high INT actually interferes with learning some skills (particularly physical ones).  I recall back with my very 1st character, thinking that some skills should probably be better-learned through other traits than INT (e.g. "feel your way" to better social skills with CHA, etc...)

 

It actually seemed to work out well, unless you wanted to be a master of stealth. There many had a negative modifier.

"Noticeable" is somewhat subjective; it improved your chance of learning. And as your chances decreased as you skill increased, any additional modifier was of tremendous help. The modifiers were never large enough to be overwhelming, at least not in any of the games I ever played in.

SDLeary

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I never felt that the Skill Modifers could be overwhelming, but then again we never played that many Rune Level characters. I do agree that the negative Stealth modifier was an issue. We reworked it so there wasn't any negative skill modifers anyway, so it wasn't an issue for us.

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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If you work with a single attribute as the modifier for increasing a skill then the range of values from 3d6 is small in absolute terms. But most characters will be developing skills for attributes that they have at reasonable levels ie between 9 and 18 so the bonus is quite limited. This is also one of the reasons why I made my original post - you can easily have a low INT character who can rapidly increase their medicine or science skill. This results in doctors and scientists with reasonable skills but who are effectively morons. If you want a character defined by skills alone then there are systems that do this (Gumshoe springs to mind) but if you include attributes then these should have an impact

 

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With RQ3 category modifiers, even with a single attribute, the modifier isn't that small. For example, doctors and scientists with a 16 INT will get a +6% modifier to Knowledge skills. Now, initially that isn't all that much of an edge over the 10 INT "morons", but over time the extra 6% will result in faster advancement. Once you reache 100%, the high INT character can still improve, while the "morons" cannot. 

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In my old CoC group, we changed the "1D6% gain for everyone" to that a character will get a fixed amount of his INT/3 instead. We also had a different way to mark successfully used skills. For a regular success you'll mark the skill with a slash and then make a regular Experience Roll. For a critical success you'll mark the skill with a cross and will automatically get that INT/3 for it, no roll necessary.

We also had a different method to distribute the professsional and hobby skill points. Instead for a sum of EDU x 15, freely distributable, you got 15 skil point "packages" worth your character's EDU stat. Each profession skill had at least to get one package applied, the remaining packages could be applied as you see fit, reflecting, that in a modern educational world you really can't choose the training you get or won't get, although you still can choose a field of special interest.

For hobby skills you got 5 packages worth your INT stat, with the restriction that you could apply up to 3 packages max on a single skill.

Characters build that way didn't fail or die more often than a "regular" built one. :)

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20 hours ago, Killing Time said:

 This results in doctors and scientists with reasonable skills but who are effectively morons. 

In real life I have worked with my fair share of Medical Officers who could perhaps fit this category, heh heh

Edited by Mankcam
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" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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5 hours ago, Mankcam said:

In real life I have worked with my fair share of Medical Officers who could perhaps fit this category, heh heh

As have I. It's amazing how many people who are skilled in their field have a kind of tunnel vision that hurts them when deal with things outside of it.

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Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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