Friday, January 14, 2011

General Skills

One of the more intriguing parts of the Rules Cyclopedia, to me anyway, is the Other Character Abilities chapter.  To get this out of the way: Weapon Mastery sucks.  Hell, if I had remembered to add it to my house rules my current Nightwick Campaign would use the LotFP small/medium/large weapon system.

However, I really like the idea of General Skills.  A few players in my old group often complained about the lack of character customization in OSD&D (I mainly ran S&W at the time but they also played LL).  I think General Skills add a modicum of that without the cumbersome nature of 3.x's skill system.  It would help to differentiate say a Northern born barbarian from a knight without the need for separate classes.

It also provides a method of healing that doesn't require someone in the party to be a Cleric.  Now, I like Clerics and would never remove them from the Nightwick Campaign as they fit so well in that context.  However, the idea of a Cleric as a designated healing class bothers the shit out of me.  The healing skill is a nice way to mitigate some of that, but it's limited healing potential still keeps the spotlight on the Cleric.

I would introduce them to my game, but I'm not sure if I want to muddy the LotFP Common Tasks system I already use.  How does one add an Ability roll based stealth skill to a game where any character has a 1 in 6 chance to sneak?  I'm not sure yet.

I will say that I'm very tempted to adapt them into the Underworld setting.  Since I'm thinking of using the S&W White Box as the rules for that setting, I don't have a dedicated way to handle opening doors, climbing, sneaking, and a myriad of other tasks.  Also, since I don't have to accommodate Thief characters, introducing General Skills is that much easier.


  1. In Pars Fortuna, I handled it with knacks and skills. Basically, anyone can give anything a try with a 1 in 6 chance of success. Having a knack for something (dwarfs with weird constructions, elves finding secret doors) makes it a 2 in 6 chance. Being skilled with something means you get better at it as you advance in levels - I represented this by having people roll a saving throw to use a skill (essentially, making a saving throw to avoid failing). You can increase difficulty by increasing the dice size for a knack (i.e. 2 in 8 or 2 in 10 instead of 2 in 6) and by imposing a penalty for skill rolls. Let people choose a few knacks and one or two skills at 1st level, and you have a simple way to differentiate characters.

  2. That sounds interesting. I a bit confused by what you mean with saving throws, but it sounds simple enough.

    I do use different die types to represent difficulty in my system cribbed from LotFP.

  3. I'm getting around the "Cleric as designated healing class" by giving wizards the ability to heal people. For example:

    Level 2:


    Range: Touch

    Components: A small bit of dead flesh

    Casting Time: 2 rounds

    Duration: Instantaneous

    Area of Effect: Special

    Allows the caster to bind small bits of dead tissue to a wound, healing 1d6 damage.

    There are others, but that's the only one I have fully statted. Does that solution work in your experience?

  4. send me am email at
    clovisCithog a t hotm ail do tcom
    and I can forward you my house rules regarding skills that can seamlessly be added to your campaign

    two in 6 chance does not make for heros
    and your players will become too timid

    on game sessions that players dont level up
    I use GM priviledge to assign skill bonuses

  5. If you're using the 1-in-6 thing, try this:

    * Base 1/6 chance of success for something the character is trained in (i.e., he bought the General Skill)

    * Ability score adjustment: +1 if related score is above average (13+), -1 if below average (<9), no adjustment if score is average (9-12)

    * Additional Training: +1 if character buys skill again (this can grant a maximum bonus of +2)

    * Affinity: something like Matt's "knack" in that if the character has logical affinity for the general skill, grant +1 ("affinity" is subject to GM discretion and should be based on the classes Special Abilities or where the PC grew up (e.g., dwarves get +1 to Caving, elves get +1 to Nature Lore))

    Gear: certain equipment or gear quality can adjust chances of success, depending on what's being done (e.g., alchemical healing poultice grants +1 to Healing, while crap gear might impose -1 to Mountaineering)

    Maximum benefit is 5-in-6 chance. If the chance is reduced to 0-in-6, then convert the roll to 1-in-8.